Established in 2018 by long-time collaborators, pianist Brendan Nguyen and mezzo soprano Leslie Ann Leytham, PROJECT [BLANK] produces immersive, interdisciplinary chamber music and operatic performances. Our programming style, infusion of technology, collaboration with local visual artists, and extravagantly produced concerts aim to explore new musical territory while casting a contemporary eye on the established canon.
By bringing together diverse artistic practices, PROJECT [BLANK] produces novel concert experiences that redefine the performance space. Each concert event is conceived and produced in collaboration with visual artists, technologists, classical musicians, and composers, to challenge the perception of the concert hall as the only sanctuary for classical music. In rethinking the relationship between the artistic product and the space, we are also rethinking the relationship between audience and performance. In doing these things, we are cultivating the practice of listening.
PROJECT [BLANK] wants contribute to the development of San Diego as a national center for world-class art and music that challenges the norms of the concert experience. In the coming years, we aim to offer multiple concerts each season, including updated performances of standard repertoire, larger opera productions, and commissions of new works. As well, PROJECT [BANK] will expand their operation to include community engagement programs that encourage young people to listen, create, and explore the possibilities of music and sound.
Brendan Nguyen, pianist
Brendan Nguyen is a pianist who displays uncommon versatility as a performer, artist and thinker. He has performed at prestigious concert halls and concert series including the REDCAT Theater at the Disney Hall in Los Angeles, Zipper Hall, the Monday Evening Concert series, Merkin Hall and The Stone in New York. He is also a former member of the highly acclaimed Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble, Echoi, and Palimpsest ensembles, and has recorded with Carrier Records and Populist Records. Brendan’s most recent project The Seven Tragedies of Space Travel was conceived as a multi-space, multi-media, opera for solo pianist that mixes western performance tradition with technology, food, and aliens who speak Vietnamese.
Nguyen has worked closely and in workshops with composers such as George Crumb, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, and Lewis Nielson. Brendan’s enthusiasm for contemporary music has lead to a number of premieres and commissions, including works by Wojtek Blecharz, Aaron Helgeson, Nicholas Deyoe, Clint McCallum, Josiah Oberholtzer, and by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Roger Reynolds. He has also performed with ICE violinist David Bowlin, pianist Aleck Karis, and percussionist Steven Schick.
Brendan performed at the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Maine as a recipient of a Performer’s Associate Fellowship. There, he 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 in New York as two-time recipient of the C.J. Huang Foundation Scholarship and the Jim Ricketts Foundation Scholarship. In 2004, he was invited to perform again at Shandelee and honored as one of the most outstanding alumni since the festival’s foundation.
A graduate of the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music in Ohio (BM, 2005) and UC San Diego (MM, 2010/DMA, 2015), Brendan has also studied at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam in the Netherlands with Jan Wijn. His teachers also include Aleck Karis (UC San Diego), Alvin Chow (Oberlin Conservatory), Yong Hi Moon (Peabody Institute of Music), and the late Earl Wild. He has also studied in master classes with Yoheved Kaplinksy (Juilliard), Martin Canin (Juilliard), Julian Martin (Juilliard), and Craig Sheppard (U of WA). He currently teaches private piano to undergraduate majors and a keyboard skills class at UC San Diego.
Leslie Ann Leytham
Leslie Ann Leytham, mezzo-soprano
Leslie Ann Leytham is a San Diego-based mezzo-soprano who focuses much of her attention on contemporary narrative vocal works, not only as a singer and actor, but a costume designer, director, writer and a composer of performance art pieces. Her work draws from television, film, and opera, centering on the depiction of women in popular culture (thanks to a very bizarre youth spent living in Las Vegas). Dr. Leytham explores the intersectionality and performativity of gender, sexuality and institutional norms in the genres of pop, experimental, and opera.
Leslie seeks to consistently extend the theoretical and technical boundaries of the voice and has commissioned and premiered works by Martin Hiendl, Nicholas Deyoe, Clinton McCallum, Carolyn Chen, Marti Epstein, Andy Vores, and is currently preparing a regional premiere of a work by Austrian composer, Beat Furrer. She has performed as a featured artist with CityWater Ensemble at San Francisco’s Center for New Music, The Industry Opera Company in Los Angeles, Ensemble Echoi on the Monday Evening Concert Series in Los Angeles, La Jolla Symphony under the direction of Steven Shick, and as a founding member of Boston’s Guerilla Opera Company.
Dr. Leytham earned her Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (2005) and a Master of Music degree in Voice Performance from The Boston Conservatory (2007). Leslie earned her Doctorate of Musical Arts degree in Contemporary Music Performance from the University of California, San Diego where she developed her interdisciplinary work under the guidance of the late violinist János Négyesy and video artist, Tara Knight.