|Leslie Hassberg -- Bio|
|A review from the Pacifica Tribune:|
|Mezzo-soprano Leslie Hassberg's performance of the avenging Azucena stole the show. With eyes wild and full of venomous fire and a performance worthy of any real-life grief-ridden, avenging sorceress, she grabbed each note and gave it its most glorious due. Her full-throated phrasing and deeply intoxicating mezzo-soprano blazed a path of vocal grandeur that was in a word, magnificent.|
|I have been involved with music all of my life, and it brings me a great deal of joy. Some of my early influences were my mother, a great appreciator of classical music; my uncle Stephen, who was also my first piano teacher; and my temple's music director, Rae Cook, who is still active in Jewish music despite being well into her 80s.
I studied piano through eighth grade, then switched to flute for a few years, then took piano again in all three(!) colleges I attended. I've also played guitar since summer camp when I was ten. It comes in handy for the sing-alongs I love to have at my home or wherever friends gather.
I began singing choral music at another summer camp, and then joined both school groups and the local community chorus, the Oratorio Society of Flushing (NY). Since then I've sung in choruses large and small, amateur and professional, sometimes with world-famous conductors and soloists. Some of my favorites have been the New York Choral Society with Robert DeCormier (we performed in Carnegie Hall!), The Choral Majority (a queer quartet crusading against the Moral Majority and affirming gay pride), and the San Francisco Choral Artists (a superb a cappella chamber choir conducted by Magen Solomon).
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At one point when I was trying to figure out what to be when I grew up (which I do regularly), a friend suggested I try my hand at choral conducting. This led first to courses at SF State University, a stint conducting the SF Lesbian Chorus, and then a switch to making vocal performance my primary focus. Since then I've sung with many local opera companies, as well as the San Francisco Symphony and Opera Choruses, solos with choruses and on a few recordings. Opera roles include Carmen and Mercedes in "Carmen," Azucena in "Il Trovatore" and the Mother in "Amahl and the Night Visitors." Most recently I was in two musical revues, "By George, It's War!" and "Wild Women of the West." I also sing High Holy Day services, do recitals, church singing, and Christmas caroling.
I have done some arranging, accompanying and quite a bit of producing for various groups in the Bay Area. In 1987 I wrote a song cycle, "Confrontations with the Devil in the Form of Love" on poems by Judy Grahn, for a recital of works by women composers.
Although classical music has been my main focus, I also have an extensive repertoire of folk and labor music, and performed in several musicals. My upcoming cabaret show, "A Nightingale Sings in Berkeley," is my first public foray into the jazz world.
When not occupied by musical pursuits, I enjoy social dancing, puzzles and games, adventures and travel. I also have a full-time day job as a legal secretary.