As a conductor, Lesley Leighton embraces a broad range of music, from the Renaissance to the Romantic, although she is particularly dedicated to twentieth and 21st century compositions. She has performed on more than 85 film soundtracks, and has prepared choruses for Gustavo Dudamel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Bramwell Tovey, Leonard Slatkin, Zubin Mehta, Pierre Boulez, Michael Tilson Thomas, Laura Jackson, and John Adams. Leighton has premiered more than 50 new compositions as a conductor since 2009, and most recently collaborated with composer John Wineglass for the premiere of his newest work for chorus and orchestra, Voices of the West, which premiered in October 2018, in addition to the world premiere of composer Jasper Randall’s Requiem in March 2019. In 2016, Leighton co-produced Los Angeles Master Chorale’s national anthems (David Lang) album, and she conducted the west coast premiere of Lang’s opera, the loser, at Los Angeles Opera in February 2019 and recorded the work in New York this past March. She will also collaborate with Barbara Hannigan for Stravinsky’s opera Rake’s Progress, in Leighton’s first production with the Ojai Festival in June 2019. Lang’s crowd out is Leighton’s conducting debut with Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Leighton was named the first associate conductor in the history of Los Angeles Master Chorale in July 2011 following a year as assistant conductor. She was appointed artistic director of Los Robles Master Chorale in 2008 and served as interim director of choral activities at La Sierra University during the 2013-14 academic year; at UCLA as director of choruses from 2014-16; and was a guest lecturer in choral music at California State University San Bernardino for the 2016-17 academic year. In addition, she regularly conducted the Los Angeles Master Chorale Chamber Singers for 6 years, and premiered works annually with them at Walt Disney Concert Hall.