Composer Lee R. Kesselman is best known as a composer of vocal works, including opera, music for chorus, chamber music and solo songs. Large vocal works include the opera The Bremen Town Musicans (commissioned by Opera for the Young), The Emperor's New Clothes (a choral opera), Measuring the Holy for SATB, children and orchestra, Shona Mass for voices and African percussion, and Infinity in the Palm of Your Hand, a symphony for treble chorus and orchestra, and Praise to the Light of the World for men, women, SATB and symphonic band. The Bremen Town Musicans has been performed over 350 times for schoolchildren in Wisconsin, Illinois, Tennessee and Texas.
Kesselman has been honored as a composer with prizes in the Melodious Accord (New York) Composition Search, Chautauqua Chamber Singers Composition Contest, the Chautauqua Children’s Chorale Composition Contest and the Illinois Choral Directors’ Association Contest. Kesselman is the composer or arranger of over 90 published choral works and an equal number of unpublished works in the genres of choral, opera, symphonic, solo voice and chamber music.
Kesselman has written numerous pieces for instrumental ensembles, including O lente, lente currite noctis equi!, CG, and Love Song for a Common Destiny for string orchestra, Metallum and Bei Mir for percussion ensembles, and works for various combinations of solo piano, violin and piano, cello and bass, violin and bass, and Duo Mythologique for flute and string bass. His extended works for solo voice and instruments include JOLERE for soprano and string quartet (and dance), Ashes & Dreams for soprano, clarinet and piano, Make Me A Willow Cabin for soprano, clarinet and piano, FACES for soprano and piano, In the Garden of Love for soprano and piano, LOVE PHASES for baritone and piano, How I Hate This Room for soprano, cello and piano, and CIRCLES for soprano, string bass and piano.
Composer & arrangement of many works for choruses of all voicings and levels, Kesselman’s best-known choral works include BUZZINGS for SATB on poetry of Emily Dickinson, Ad Amore for treble or tenor/bass voices and bells, SHONA MASS for various voicings and African percussion, Be Thou My Vision for SATB, Kaddish for My Father for SATB, clarinet and piano, Hope is the Song to words of Gordon Parks, Love Song for a Common Destiny for SATB, As One is One for SATB, string bass and piano, SENSOO for SATB and crotales, Nights in Armor for SATB, Kadosh/Benedictus for SSA or SAB brass quintet and organ, and Moonplay for SSA, flute and marimba. His choral arrangements span the worlds of African, Scottish, American, Japanese, Swedish, Native American, Spirituals, Hebrew and Yiddish songs and Christmas carols. He has also ‘re-thought’ works by Bach, Handel, Monteverdi for voices.
Mr. Kesselman’s works for children have brought him national attention and he has been commissioned to write for children’s choirs, middle school, junior school, high school, college, community, church, and professional ensembles. Boosey & Hawkes, Roger Dean Music, Lawson-Gould Music Publishers, Colla Voce, Carl Fischer Music and G. Schirmer have published many of Mr. Kesselman’s choral works. His compositions and arrangements are also available through www.kesselmanpress.com and www.MusicSpoke.com He served as a long-time choral editor for Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers. He is also the co-founder and Associate Director of the Choral Music Experience Teacher Training Institute.
Kesselman served as Director of Choral Activities at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, a suburb of Chicago, from 1981-2022. He is Founder and Music Director of the New Classic Singers, a professional choral ensemble. He also directed the DuPage Chorale and College of DuPage Chamber Singers. A native of Milwaukee, he holds undergraduate degrees in piano and composition from Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and a master’s degree in conducting from the University of Southern California. In addition to teaching and composing, Mr. Kesselman is active as a conductor, pianist, clinician and lecturer. He has been music director for a variety of opera and musical theatre productions. Kesselman was Chair of the Music Program at College of DuPage and Founding Curator of the Music Fridays @ Noon series. He served as President of Illinois Choral Directors Association. Chicago a cappella awarded Kesselman its Tribute Award in 2018.