"My work is a combination of disciplined, supportive music teaching, as well as collaborative, passionate performance art. I am determined to live an artistic life which breaks down stereotypes and builds creative relationships."
Baritone Matthew Leese has performed throughout New Zealand and on stages in the USA, Canada, Asia and Europe. His operatic credits include lead roles in Dido and Aeneas, l’Euridice, 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. Matthew’s recordings include Elements and Le Stagioni and, with his sister soprano Anna Leese, New Zealand Poets in Song. He was a medieval soloist on the 2007 Norton Anthology of Western Music.
A teacher, director and conductor Matthew 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.
He is an Adjunct Professor of Music at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois and at Millikin’s Baroque Summer Immersion programs in Urbania, Italy and St. Andrews, Canada. He is conductor of the Millikin University Women's Choir and the New Brunswick Early Music Festival Community Chorus of which he is also the co-artistic director.
As a director, Matthew has led many productions including L'incoronazione di Poppea, The Fairy Queen, The Magic Flute, Venus and Adonis, Dido and Aeneas, Orpheus in the Underworld as well as Mozart’s Impresario and Cosi fan tutte. He is known for his expertise in period stage movement.
Matthew grew up in Palmerston North and earned a Bachelor’s degree with honours from the University of Otago. He earned a Master’s in Music from Indiana University; a Graduate Performance Diploma with Distinction from the Longy School of Music and a Doctorate in Choral Conducting from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.
"I always refer to my time spent in Palmerston North my 'formative years.' My creative mentors during that time instilled in me an attitude of both fun and hard work towards music-making, something I have carried through to my professional life. The support I received and still receive from the Palmerston North creative community is unique and very valuable to me."