Conductor & Music Director
Martin Kessler serves as Music Director and Conductor for Choral Arts Cleveland, a post he has held since 2002. With them, he has conducted important concert works by Monteverdi, Bach, Handel, Schutz, Faure, Stravinsky, and Rutter. His work with CAC and other choruses has included performances of major orchestral collaborations such as Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Dvorak’s Stabat Mater, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, Hayden’s Lord Nelson Mass, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Bloch’s Sacred Service, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Midsummer Night’s Dream. A recent highlight in Mr. Kessler’s career was the collaboration of Suburban Symphony Orchestra (SSO) with CAC and the choirs of First Baptist and Fairmount Presbyterian Churches in the performance of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis.
This year marks his 31st anniversary as Music Director of SSO, a tenure featuring performances of the complete symphonies and concertos of Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, and Tchaikovsky, as well as major works by Bruckner, Mahler, Ravel, Bartok, Prokofiev, and Stravinsky.
Mr. Kessler has also conducted music for the theatre for the past 40 years, an odyssey that includes productions for Leverett House Opera, Lyric Opera Cleveland, Cain Park, and University School. In 2005, he received Northern Ohio Live Magazine’s Award of Achievement for his contributions to classical music in this region.
Mr. Kessler is a graduate of Harvard University, where he was Music Director of the Bach Society Orchestra and Leverett House Opera. He holds a Master’s Degree in Composition from Cleveland State University, a degree earned while serving as both a conductor of the music program’s orchestra and the interim conductor of their choral program. He also holds conducting diplomas from the Salzburg Mozarteum and London’s Trinity College of Music. Born in Cleveland in 1949, Mr. Kessler received his early musical education from the Cleveland Music School Settlement. At Cleveland Heights High School, he was student conductor of the Heights Choir. He studied conducting at the Meadow Brook School of Music, where his teachers included Robert Shaw, Clayton Krehbiel, and James Levine.
Mr. Kessler recently retired from University School’s Hunting Valley Campus, where he served for 32 years as Director of Music. As Director of Music he conducted the Glee Club, the Chamber Orchestra, and the annual spring musical. He is active as a composer and essayist, and enjoys his hobbies of cooking and sailing. He is current an Adjunct faculty in the Music Department of Cleveland State University. He lives in Cleveland Heights with his wife, Joyce.