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Leslie  Bendan 14JAN18-180_edited.jpg


Distinguished Artist Faculty

Pianist BRENDAN, known for his uncommon versatility as a performer fuses bold programming, technology, and experimental concepts to explore new musical territory while casting a contemporary eye on the rich canon of classical repertoire. Celebrated for his extraordinary musicianship and innovative approach, Brendan’s technical mastery and bold programming choices position him as an "extraordinary, gifted, and exciting pianist" (Shultz, UT San Diego) who is not just accomplished but also a "technical wizard" (Wood, San Diego Story).


He has been lauded by the LA Times for “the gripping performances, and the gripped crowd” for his performance in the critically acclaimed portrait concert of composer Julius Eastman at the Monday Evening Concert Series, and "spellbinding" for a performance of Morton Feldman's nearly six-hour trio, For Philip Guston. As a Music Director, Brendan led a production of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ 8 Songs for a Mad King with Bodhi Tree Concerts. The production won the ‘Best of Fest’ award at the San Diego International Fringe Festival. Times of San Diego praised: “... magnificently played by a stunning six-piece chamber ensemble, under the baton of music director Brendan.” 


Brendan's deeply personal creative work has also been lauded as "… a totalizing, all-encompassing piece of art… it may have been the personal values, shared by the creators and worn utterly on the sleeve, that animate this production, among them a concern for our world, the idea of displacement, and a sense of connection with, and tribute to, one’s family history — that proved so winning." (Shultz, UT San Diego) This in reference to his recent work The Tragedies of Space Travel, a multi-space, multi-media opera for solo pianist that mixes performance with new live visuals, Vietnamese cuisine, and Vietnamese-speaking aliens.


Having worked closely with composers such as George Crumb, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, and Lewis Nielson, Brendan’s work with living composers has led to numerous premieres and commissions. These include works by Beat Furrer, Wojtek Blecharz, Aaron Helgeson, Nicholas Deyoe, Clint McCallum, Trevor Bača, Carolyn Chen, Josiah Oberholtzer, and Pulitzer Prize laureate Roger Reynolds. He has also performed with pianists Aleck Karis and Joseph Kubera, percussionist Steven Schick, Grammy-winning artists such as Susan Narucki, and members the International Contemporary Ensemble including soprano and flutist Alice Teyssier and violinist David Bowlin.


Brendan has performed at the REDCAT Theater at the Disney Hall (LA), the Monday Evening Concert Series (LA), wasteLAnd concert series (LA), Merkin Hall (NYC), Ojai Festival (CA), Musica Sacra (Netherlands), De Bachzaal (Amsterdam), and The Stone (NYC). He is also an alumnus of the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble, Ensemble Echoi, Palimpsest Ensemble, and has recorded with Carrier Records and Populist Records.


Having been awarded the Performance Associate Fellowship at the Bowdoin International Music Festival, Brendan was featured both as soloist and chamber musician on the Upbeat! Concert Series and the Gamper Festival of Contemporary Music alongside esteemed faculty and guest artists. Brendan has also made appearances at the Shandelee International Music Festival (NY) as two-time recipient of the C.J. Huang Foundation Scholarship and the Jim Ricketts Foundation Scholarship. He was later honored at Shandelee as among the most outstanding alumni since the festival’s foundation.


Brendan is currently faculty at the San Diego Piano Academy and Co-Founder and Executive Director of Project [BLANK], a performing arts organization whose aim is to produce ambitious multi-disciplinary works with a commitment to social justice, equality, and inclusion. His work garnered the organization national attention winning the Innovation Prize at Catapult Opera's first ACCELERATE Competition for a video produced in collaboration with Twisted Heart Puppetworks.


A graduate of the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music (B.Mus) and UC San Diego (MA/DMA), Brendan also studied at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam in the Netherlands with Jan Wijn. Other teachers include Aleck Karis (UC San Diego), Alvin Chow (Oberlin Conservatory), Yong Hi Moon (Peabody Institute of Music), Jan Wijn (Amsterdam Conservatory), and the late Earl Wild.

"Brendan changed everything: He revamped my technique, identifying my problem areas, fixing these issues, and enhancing my abilities in a way that no other teacher had, or ever has since." - Binh-An N.

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