Music Director & Conductor
As a piano soloist, conductor and music director, Leslie has designed programs and performed in collaboration with some of the world’s most esteemed artists.
Conductors and Musicians: Conductors Marin Alsop, Yannick Nezet Seguin, David Robertson, Andrew Litton, George Manahan, Rob Fisher, and JoAnn Falletta; Violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, fiddler Mark O’Connor; jazz legend Dick Hyman; pianist Alan Feinberg.
Composers: Over 100 World Premiere performances, recordings and workshops of George Gershwin, James P. Johnson, Oscar Levant, John Kander, John Corigliano, Richard Danielpour, Aaron Kernis and Todd Almond.
Actors/Vocalists: Usher, Chita Rivera, Jennifer Nettles, Kara DioGuardi, Brandy Norwood, Patti Labelle, Mel B, Bebe Neuwirth, Melanie Griffith, Joel Grey, Skylar Astin, Jessie Mueller, Rita Wilson, Dawn Upshaw, Brooke Shields and Janis Siegel.
Choreographers and Directors: Ann Reinking, Walter Bobbie, Roger Rees, Kathleen Marshall, Kevin Newbury, George Faison and Amanda Dehnert.
Orchestras and Presenters: Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra, Kravitz Center for the Performing Arts, Aspen Music Festival, the Concordia Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall and Avery Fisher Hall, New York City Ballet Orchestra, Jazz @ Lincoln Center, the 92nd Street Y, Merkin Concert Hall, City Center Encores.
CHICAGO: THE MUSICAL
For more than 5,000 shows in over 15 years, Leslie served as the Music Director and Conductor of the Broadway hit Chicago: The Musical, setting a record for the most performances conducted by any Music Director on Broadway. Winner of six Tony® Awards and the Grammy® Award for Best Musical Theater Album, Chicago is the longest-running American musical of all time. She was responsible for sustaining the reputation of excellence for the most beloved revival in Broadway history.
CARNEGIE HALL: TAKE THE STAGE w/ BROADWAY STARS
The Take The Stage concert series gives families who dream of singing and dancing in a Broadway show, an opportunity to make that dream come true. Presented by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute family and concert programing, these events were presented at John Jay College and Pace University before making its Carnegie Hall debut. Leslie was the creative impetus on and off stage for this all singing all dancing show, where the audience joined Broadway professionals to learn the music and the moves from some of the great musicals of all time including Grease, The Sound of Music, Rent, Les Misérables, Hairspray and BEAUTIFUL The Carole King Musical. A lucky few made their Carnegie Hall debut and were chosen to join the cast onstage. Broadway Tony Award winner Jessie Mueller, Hamilton star Mandy Gonzalez, Be More Chill star George Salazar, and Moulin Rouge star Robyn Hurder were among the 60 Broadway veterans representing over 150 shows who starred in these truly once in a lifetime performances.
HERE LIES JENNY
The Zipper Theatre, the funky West 37th Street space that uses automobile seats in its auditorium, was home to the conceptual revue about a lady (Bebe Neuwirth) who returns to a crumbling bar to interact with a pianist, a barkeep and two habitués who are both tender and menacing. The music of Kurt Weill (and the lyrics of various writers) fuel the inscrutable work. In Here Lies Jenny, Neuwirth plays a down-and-out lady — a former chanteuse? — who enters a bar, spars with two drinkers and (along with those thugs, a barkeep and a pianist) sings eclectic songs by composer Weill. Here Lies Jenny has enjoyed a sold out run since its opening. This new, original, constructed piece features choreography by Neuwirth's Chicago collaborator, Ann Reinking, music direction by Leslie Stifelman, and is conceived and directed by Roger Rees, Neuwirth's fellow actor from her days on “Cheers.” Based on the description of the world of the new late-night musical, in Here Lies Jenny you can almost smell the cigarettes, taste the stale hooch and hear the dissonant notes of Kurt Weill.
PBS AMERICAN MASTERS: A LETTER TO ELIA
Winner of the 2011 Peabody® Award
Leslie was honored to have the opportunity to produce and perform the music for A Letter to Elia, written and directed by Martin Scorsese and his longtime collaborator Kent Jones. This is a deeply personal film, a frank self-portrait, and an equally frank acknowledgement of the closeness and the distance between artists and their art. Composed of clips, stills, readings from Kazan’s autobiography and his speech on directing (read by Elias Koteas), a videotaped interview done late in Kazan’s life, and Scorsese’s commentary on and offscreen, A Letter to Elia takes a close look at the life of art and its creation – the work, the distractions, the inspirations, the complications, the intersections between art and experience.
TOO HOT TO HANDEL
Infused with Latin rhythms, jazz improvisation, and gospel harmony, Too Hot to Handel is a exuberant re-invention of Handel’s classic Messiah that blends the timeless brilliance of the original masterpiece with an invigorating infusion of jazz, gospel, rock, and R&B. This ingeniously re-imagined evening was produced by Leslie for New York City’s Lincoln Center over 20 years ago and has been an enduring favorite for audiences ever since. In 2010, Carnegie Hall and the Weill Music Institute engaged hundreds of New York City high school singers in year-long workshops, rehearsals, and performances, culminating in two concerts with conductor Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Leslie designed the entire curriculum for the 200 choristers and prepared them for the performance of a lifetime in Carnegie Hall.