David Leisner to Celebrate 65th Birthday with Special NY Concert

Top: David Leisner , Ben Verdery, João Luiz. Bottom: Courtenay Budd, Janna Baty, Devony Smith

The prolific and seemingly tireless New York-based guitarist, composer, and educator David Leisner is celebrating his 65th birthday (actually last December 22) with a very special concert put on by the New York City Classical Guitar Society on January 18 at Symphony Space on Broadway and 95th Street in Manhattan, as part of their Guitar Plus series, for which Leisner is artistic director. The program will feature three works written by Leisner showcasing the combination of guitar and voice, each featuring a different high-powered duo: 5 Songs of Devotion (1989) is based on texts from five different religious traditions and will be played by guitarist Benjamin Verdery and mezzo-soprano Janna Baty; Confiding (1985–86, originally written as a 10-part work) adapts poems by four different women (including Emily Dickinson and Emily Bronte) and will be performed by Brasil Guitar Duo’s João Luiz (Leisner wrote the title track for the BGD’s recent Ghosting album) and soprano Devony Smith; and Eve’s Diary (2015) was derived from a humorous short story about Adam and Eve by Mark Twain and features Leisner and soprano Courtenay Budd. An added bonus is an onstage conversation between Verdery and Leisner, both interesting and articulate folks. All in all it should be a very stimulating and engrossing evening! For ticket info and more click here. Happy Birthday, David!

And speaking of the esteemed Mr. L., we’re happy to note that the next issue of Classical Guitar (Spring 2019, out in late February) will feature an exclusive excerpt from his essential new book, Playing With Ease: A Healthy Approach to Guitar Technique, which goes way deep into the ergonomics of guitar-playing, basic principles of movement and alignment, and so many other areas vital to thriving as a guitarist. So keep an eye out for that! —Blair Jackson


Below, performing “The Moon” from Eve’s Diary, is the Olson/De Cari Duo (John Olson and Gioia De Cari), for whom the work was written, and who made the premiere recording of it for their fall 2018 album, also called Eve’s Diary