A member of the New England Conservatory faculty since 1974, and president of the school from 1983 through 1996 (following a year as artistic director), Laurence Lesser teaches College and Preparatory cello students and brings unique value to the chamber music experience at NEC and in Boston through his artistic direction of the First Monday at Jordan Hall concert series since 1985.
In 2010, Bridge records issued Lesser's recording with pianist HaeSun Paik of Beethoven's complete music for cello and piano. The comprehensive documentation embraced by this three-disc collection includes two audio CDs as well as the DVD Behind the Beethoven Project with biographical material, a discussion of this repertoire, and clips from concerts held in Korea immediately following the recording sessions in NEC's Jordan Hall.
Laurence Lesser was a top prize winner in the 1966 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and a guest performer in the historic Heifetz-Piatigorsky concerts and recordings. In 1976 he gave the premiere of Menotti’s Fantasia (written for him under a Ford Foundation grant) with the New Japan Philharmonic under Seiji Ozawa; in 1991, he performed the New England premiere with the NEC Symphony conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich. He has been a soloist with the BSO, the London Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and other major orchestras. He has appeared at the Casals, Spoleto, Marlboro, Charleston, and Santa Fe festivals as well as London’s South Bank Summer Music Festival.
In 1994, Lesser was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2005,he was named a "Chevalier du Violoncelle" by the Eva Janzer Memorial Cello Center at Indiana University, awarded for distinguished achievements and contributions to the world of cello playing and teaching.
Laurence Lesser occupies a teaching chair endowed by the estate of Walter W. Naumburg.
A.B., cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Harvard College. Studies with Gregor Piatigorsky at the University of Southern California. Fulbright Scholar with Gaspar Cassadó in Köln, Germany. Recordings on Columbia, RCA, Melodiya, Desto. Former faculty of Peabody Institute, University of Southern California, Banff Centre for the Arts, Toho Gakuen School of Music.
Photo by Andrew Hurlbut
- Fourth prize, Tchaikovsky Competition, 1966
- Awarded "Chevalier du Violoncelle" by the Eva Janzer Memorial Cello Center at Indiana University, 2005
- Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, class of 1994
- Naumburg Chair in Music, New England Conservatory
- President, New England Conservatory, 1983-1996; Acting President, 2005-6.
- Curator, First Monday at Jordan Hall concert series, 1985—present.
- Heifetz-Piatigorsky Concerts
- Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
- Casals, Marlboror, Ravinia, Menlo, Spoletto, Santa Fe, Yellow Barn, Killington chamber music festivals
- Music for Food, Board member