Laurence Lesser, president emeritus of the New England Conservatory, has enjoyed a multi-faceted career as a concert artist, teacher and arts administrator. He served as president of the conservatory for 13 years, from 1983 to 1996. He was a top prize-winner in the 1966 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, and a participant in the historic Heifetz-Piatigorsky concerts and recordings. He has been soloist with many orchestras including the Boston Symphony, London Philharmonic and the New Japan Philharmonic. He has performed under the batons of Ozawa, Rostropovich and Tilson Thomas. He was the first to record the Schoenberg Cello Concerto, and in 1966 was the first to perform it with orchestra since its 1938 introduction by Emanuel Feuermann.
As a chamber musician Laurence Lesser has participated at the Casals, Marlboro, Spoleto and Santa Fe festivals; in the last decade he has been a regular contributor to the artistic life of the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada.
Mr. Lesser attended Harvard where he studied mathematics and graduated with honors. Upon his return to music he was greeted by Pablo Casals at the Zermatt Master Classes with the words, "Thank God who has given you such talent!" At the end of a Fulbright year studying music in Germany, he won first prize in the Cassado Competition in Siena, Italy. His New York debut recital in 1969 was greeted as "triumphant."
In a life filled with successful concerts, Mr. Lesser has always been passionate about teaching. He came to the New England Conservatory in 1974 as a member of the faculty after being teaching assistant of Gregor Piatigorsky at the University of Southern California and spending four years at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore. He currently teaches an international class of highly gifted cellists at NEC, and was the subject of the cover story in the July/August 1997 issue of Strings magazine.
Mr. Lesser plays a 1622 cello made by the brothers Amati in Cremona, Italy. He has recorded on the RCA, Columbia, Melodyia and CRI labels. .