Dr. Jonathan S. Leshnoff, a local composer and pedagogue, was nominated Nov. 20 for a 2019 Grammy Award in the Best Classical Compendium category for “Symphony No. 4: Heichalos.” The CD was released by Chandos Records last May in honor of Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day.
An Upper Park Heights resident and native of New Brunswick, N.J., Leshnoff, 46, teaches music theory and orchestration at Towson University. He was the subject of a cover story for the fall edition of TU Magazine for his work with The Violins of Hope, a collection of restored instruments played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust.
Those violins were used by the Nashville Symphony on “Symphony 4.” which was conducted by Giancarlo Guerro and produced by Tim Handley.
“Heichalos” was inspired by an ancient Jewish mystical text.
“My music for the past five, six, seven years has focused on putting Jewish mystical spirituality to sound,” Leshnoff, who belongs to Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion Synagogue, told TU Magazine’s Mike Unger. “With this symphony, I went one step further. Instead of just having a movement, I dedicated the whole symphony to an ancient mystical text that is 2,000 years old. It’s essentially a meditative guide.”
So far, Leshnoff has released four recordings, including “Violin Concerto No. 1,” which was selected among Naxos Records’ Top 40 CDs of 2009. His body of work includes four symphonies, several oratorios and 10 concerti, in addition to numerous solo and chamber works.
The works of Leshnoff have been performed by more than 65 orchestras around the world. Among his commissions have been the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and even Carnegie Hall.
Leshnoff, who received his doctor of musical arts degree from the University of Maryland and joined Towson’s faculty in 2001, was called one of the “gifted young composers” of his generation by the Washington Post. He was described by the New York Times as “a leader of contemporary American lyricism.”
In a letter to Towson University President Dr. Kim Schatzel, Provost Dr. Melanie Perreault and Greg Faller, interim dean of Towson’s College of Fine Arts and Communication, Leshnoff wrote, “I thank Towson University for its continual support of my scholarship. I particularly thank my colleagues for all of the wonderful moments we have shared together. Indeed, everyone had a hand in making made this possible.”
The Grammy Awards air on Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. Singer Alicia Keys will serve as the host of the program.