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Leila S. Lustig: Biography

Leila S. Lustig
1944 -
Region: British Columbia

Leila S. Lustig

LEILA LUSTIG was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and lived in various parts of the United States before moving to Canada in 1987. She holds a bachelor's degree in voice and a master's degree in composition from UCLA, and a PhD in composition and theory from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Her teachers included Roy Harris, Roy Travis, Bert Levy and Robert Crane. Leila's PhD dissertation was the opera "Deirdre of the Sorrows," on a libretto she adapted from John M. Synge's play.

She spent 14 years in radio as a music producer and program director, producer of a number of classical music programs for the National Public Radio and American Public Radio networks, and creator/host of the long-running series "Music in Buffalo" for WNED-FM in Buffalo, NY, for which she composed the theme music. She was president of the Composers' Alliance of Buffalo for two years.

In Canada she has been an arts marketer, a university public-relations officer and a government writer, while continuing to compose and to perform.

She is most interested in exploring the possibilities of the human voice in atypical combinations with other instruments, frequently on her own texts. Representative works include "Lament on the Death of Music" (saxophone quartet and voice) and "Revenge of the Northern Pike" (voice, keyboard, woodwind, and tom tom). One of her major works is a cantata in memory of her father, "Angels in My Way," using as texts the Hebrew Kaddish, the Gloria from the Latin Mass, and excerpts from Ralph Waldo Emerson's poetry. She has set to music all 26 poems in Barbara Holender’s “Ladies of Genesis,” intimate monologues by women in the Bible, combining the female voice with various combinations of instruments.

Since moving to Victoria, BC, Leila has concentrated on vocal chamber music, opera and choral music, including a cantata on homelessness, "Persons of No Fixed Abode," two choral works based on texts by the BC journalist and poet, Stephen Hume, and quite a few works for two-part and three-part women’s choir including a “Magnificat” combining Latin and English texts.

Having participated in the 2003 Composer-Librettist Laboratory sponsored by Pacific Opera Victoria, she collaborated with Victoria playwright Geoff Hargreaves on three one-act operas: ““Our Lady of Esquimalt Road,” “The Office Party” and “Gonzo Charlie Gray.”

In Vancouver, her music has been performed at the Sonic Boom Festival and by the Erato Music Ensemble, among other venues. The Vancouver and Victoria Symphonies have performed readings of her orchestral works.

Feb. 2009


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