Artist Profile

Leslie Dala

Conductor Leslie Dala enjoys a multifaceted career spanning the genres of opera, symphonic music, choral and contemporary works. On the podium, he is known for his passionate, dynamic, and charismatic approach to music making. Named one of the top ten artistic leaders by the Vancouver Sun, Dala’s national profile has grown steadily with guest conducting appearances with Pacific Opera Victoria, Edmonton Opera, Saskatoon Opera, Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, Kamloops Symphony, Thirteen Strings of Ottawa, the COSI Festival in Sulmona, Italy, the Goh Ballet, University of Toronto Opera Department and the Glenn Gould School Opera Program.

Dala began his professional career as a pianist and repetiteur, which led to his appointment as Chorus Director with Vancouver Opera. Since then, his role at Vancouver Opera has expanded to include the title of Associate Conductor and Program Director of the Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program. He has worked on more than 70 Vancouver Opera main stage productions. Operas he has music directed and conducted include Le Nozze Di Figaro in the inaugural Vancouver Opera Festival, Madama Butterfly, the World Premiere of Stickboy by Neil Weisensel and Shane Koyczan, Albert Herring, The Magic Flute, La Boheme, Rigoletto, West Side Story and the Threepenny Opera.

Recent highlights of the 2017/18 opera season include conducting the World Premiere of The Overcoat, for which he was nominated for a Dora Award in the category of Oustanding Musical Direction,  by James Rolfe and Morris Panych –  a co-production with Vancouver Opera, Tapestry Opera and Canadian Stage Theatre.  This season Dala also lead the UBC productions of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice and Puccini’s Il Tabarro and Gianni Schicci. Recent concert highlights include the Verdi Requiem, Handel’s Messiah and Mahler’s 8th Symphony with the Vancouver Bach Choir and the Vancouver Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Symphony and the West Coast Symphony Orchestra respectively.  The Fall of the 2018/19 season sees Dala making his debut at the Wexford Opera Festival in Ireland conducting William Bolcom’s Dinner at Eight.  In the Spring of 2019, Dala will lead the Vancouver Opera production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola.

After completing his eight year tenure as Music Director of the Prince George Symphony, Dala is concurrently Music Director of Vancouver Bach Choir and Music Director Emeritus of the Vancouver Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra after a nine year tenure. Through these appointments, he has amassed a repertoire of over 250 orchestral works, including several choral and orchestral masterpieces. In collaboration with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Dala has led performances of The Messiah, The Creation, Elijah, St Matthew Passion and The Damnation of Faust. Other notable conducting engagements with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra include the Bicentennial Celebration Gala Concert of works by Verdi and Wagner, the highly successful Canadian premiere of John Adams’ El NinoThe Gershwin Experience featuring soprano Sylvia McNair and pianist Stephen Cole, and a gala concert with Canadian songstress Sarah McLachlan.

Dala has served on the music staff of the Canadian Opera Company, the Santa Fe Opera, l’Opera National du Rhin and the Banff Centre for the Arts. He recently completed his 15th summer as conductor of Bard on the Beach’s popular concert series “Operas and Arias”, featuring Rossini’s Barber of Seville. Dala is a frequent guest conductor of the UBC Opera Ensemble, where engagements have included Albert Herring, Carmen, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Die Fledermaus, The Florentine Straw Hat, Hansel & Gretel and Britten’s A Midsummer Summer Night’s Dream.  

A regular guest conductor of Toronto’s Soundstreams, Dala has toured contemporary music to Beijing, China and Taipei, Taiwan. Other collaborations have included the North American premiere of Phillippe Boesmans’ chamber opera Julie, a concert with internationally renowned Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka featuring George Crumb’s Ancient Voices of Children and a concert celebration of legendary Steve Reich, hailed by the New York Times as “our greatest living composer”. An avid proponent of contemporary music, Dala has recorded three dramatic works by Canadian composer Harry Somers under the Centrediscs label, including Death of Enkidu, The Merman of Orford and Chura-Churum.

Dala received his early music education as a student of the internationally renowned St. Michael’s Choir School in Toronto in multiple disciplines, including voice, piano, violin and organ. He acquired his Bachelor of Music (Hons.) in Piano Performance at the University of Toronto under the instruction of William Aide and Marek Jablonski. Under the tutelage of Lee Kum Sing, Dala later earned his Masters of Music at the University of British Columbia. Other studies include residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts, the International Conducting Workshop in the Czech Republic and the National Arts Centre Orchestra Conductors Workshop. He makes his home Vancouver, BC where he happily resides with his two sons, Christopher and Andreas and his loving wife Rosalind.