The New Zealander baritone and conductor, Matthew Leese, studied at Palmerston North Boys High School in Palmerston North, New Zealand (Class of 1996). He earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance with honours from the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand (Class of 2000). He earned his Graduate Performance Diploma with Distinction from the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts (Class of 2003); his Master of Music degree in Early Music from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana (Class of 2006); and his Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Champaign, Illinois (Class of 2012).
Dr. Matthew Leese is known as a versatile singer, conductor and director. As a baritone, he has performed throughout New Zealand and on stages in the USA, Canada, Asia and Europe, including includes dozens of opera, recital and oratorio performances. His operatic credits include lead roles in Dido and Aeneas, líEuridice, Venus and Adonis and Cephale et Procris. He has also performed in works of New Zealand composers including Outrageous Fortune by Gillian Whitehead and The Trapeze Artists by Anthony Ritchie. He has sung under the direction of such illustrious musicians as Simon Carrington, Joseph Flummerfelt, Michael Lloyd, John Poole, Nigel North, Karen Grylls, Fred Stoltzfus and Chet Alwes. Recent singing engagements include performing French Baroque Cantatas with Bourbon Baroque in Louisville Kentucky, appearing as an ensemble singer for the Mark Morris Dance Group, and as baritone soloist in J.S. Bachís St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) and George Frideric Handel's Messiah with the Spire Ensemble at the Kauffman Center, Kansas City. CD credits as a singer include "Le Stagioni and Elements" on First Step Records, a disc of new music by New Zealand composer Anthony Ritchie, "In a Vale of Tears" with Tudor Voices and Crowned with Laurel with medieval ensemble LIBER. With his sister soprano Anna Leese, he recorded "New Zealand Poets in Song". He was also a medieval soloist on the 2007 "Norton Anthology of Western Music".
Matthew Leese has founded three critically acclaimed ensembles: Otago Camerata in Dunedin; The Bath Street Studio in Bloomington, Indiana, USA, and a capella quartet Gravitacion, which specialises on the medieval, renaissance and Baroque periods. Gravitacion is located in his current home of Champaign, Illinois, USA. Recent conducting work has seen him lead productions of staged Bach Cantatas for Millikin Opera Theater, serving as Guest Conductor for the Passamaquoddy regionís Voices of the Bay 2013 and 2014, and two years as the conductor of the Millikin University Women's Choir. He is also Co-Artistic Director of NewBEMF (New Brunswick Early Music Festival).
Matthew Leese worked at Nova in Barista ∑ Dunedin, New Zealand from 2000 to 2001. He was an Adjunct Professor of Music at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois (September 2005 to July 2013) and at Millikinís Baroque Summer Immersion programs in Urbania, Italy and St. Andrews, Canada. He was conductor of the Millikin University Women's Choir and the New Brunswick Early Music Festival Community Chorus of which he was also the co-artistic director. He also worked at the University of Illinois from August 2008 to May 2009. Since January 2014 he is an Adjunct Professor at Keene State College in New Hampshire.
As a stage director, Matthew Keese has led dozens of staged projects and is known for his expertise in baroque stage movement and preparing his own performance texts, seen in productions of Purcellís Dido and Aeneas, The Fairy Queen, Charpentierís Le Malade Imaginaire, in Claudio Monteverdiís LíOrfeo and Lincoronazione di Poppea and in collaborative works such as a choral/spoken word/dance performance of Virgil Thomsonís Medea of Euripides. He has also directed The Magic Flute, Venus and Adonis, Orpheus in the Underworld as well as Mozartís Impresario and Cosi fan tutte. He is known for his expertise in period stage movement.