additional artistic staff

alan-headshot_200x250Alan Harler, Conductor Laureate

Alan Harler became Mendelssohn Club’s twelfth Music Director in 1988 and served as Artistic Director from 2009-2015. Upon his retirement, Harler remains involved with the chorus as Conductor Laureate. Maestro Harler served as Laura H. Carnell Professor and Chairman of Choral Music at Temple University’s Esther Boyer College of Music.

A strong advocate for new American music

Alan Harler is a strong advocate for new American music.  He was founder and director of the Contemporary Vocal Ensemble of Indiana.  During his tenure with Mendelssohn Club, he has commissioned and premiered 58 new compositions, including Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields (2013), David Lang’s battle hymns (2009), Jennifer Higdon’s On the Death of the Righteous (2009) and Pauline Oliveros’s Urban Echo: Circle Told (2008) in his 20th anniversary season. Other major commissions are Robert Moran’sRequiem: Chant du Cygne (1990), Charles Fussell’s Specimen Days (1992), Robert Stern’s Returning the Song (1994), Cynthia Folio’s Touch the Angel’s Hand (1994), James Primosch’s Fire Memory/ River Memory (1998), Charles Fussell’s High Bridge (2003), and Andrea Clearfield’s The Golem Psalms(2006) and Tse Go La (2012).  Maestro Harler conducted Mendelssohn Club in a critically acclaimed recording of the Moran Requiem for Argo/London Records in 1994.  In 2012, Innova Records released a CD “Metamorphosis” featuring the Higdon, Primosch, and Clearfield commissions for large chorus and orchestra.  As conductor of the Temple University Concert Choir, he has presented many Philadelphia premieres, including Moran’s Hagoromo, Alfred Schnittke’s Requiem, and Arvo Pärt’s Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Secundum Joannem. If you would like to support Alan’s vision, contribute to the Alan Harler New Ventures Fund.

In 2004, Alan Harler received the Emanuel Kardon Foundation Award for “contributing to the vitality and excellence of the Philadelphia arts community.” In 2007, Harler received the Elaine Brown Award for Lifelong Service to Choral Music, given by the American Choral Director’s Association. In 2009, he was honored with Chorus America’s prestigious Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Professional Choral Art, and the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia’s Honorary Lifetime Membership for a Distinguished Contribution to the Musical Life of Philadelphia.

leonard-headshot-10-14John Leonard, Assistant Conductor

John P. Leonard is the Director of Choral Activities and Department Chair at The College of New Jersey where he has led and prepared TCNJ’s choral ensembles in performances throughout the region including multiple concerts at Lincoln Center and the prestigious “Great Music at St. Bart’s” concert series in New York. Under his leadership, TCNJ’s Chorale has commissioned, performed and recorded numerous premieres including Robert S. Cohen’s The Road Back, Donald McCullough’s Song of the Shulamite, Georg Frederic Haas’s Sieben Klangräume to Accompany the Incomplete Fragments of Mozart’s Requiem and Andrea Clearfield’s Poet of the Body and the Soul. From 2010-2012, Dr. Leonard is also Assistant Conductor of the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia and was recently the Artistic Director of Cantus Novus chamber choir in Bucks County, PA where he produced the ensembles’ first professional recording, Jubilate! A Celebration in Song. As an educator, Dr. Leonard has taught at the primary through collegiate levels. As a scholar, he is currently working on a critical performing edition of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice to be published by Universal Edition inVienna. He also maintains an active career as a professional tenor. Dr. Leonard holds B.M. degrees in both Voice and Music Education from The Hartt School of Music, a M.M. in Conducting from Temple University, and a D.M. in Conducting from Indiana University.

brower-headshotMatthew Brower, Pianist

Matthew Brower is a pianist, coach, and educator who brings vision and sensitivity to a variety
of genres, from classical piano, chamber music, opera and art song to musical theatre and jazz.
At age 11 he made his New York City debut, performing an original composition at Weill
Recital Hall (Carnegie Hall). He has since performed in such prestigious venues as Alice Tully
Hall (Lincoln Center), Merkin Hall, and Steinway Hall.

Alongside violinist Xiang Gao (Professor of Violin at the University of Delaware) and erhuist
Cathy Yang, Dr. Brower is a member of the 6 ixwire Project , acclaimed for its synthesis of
traditional and contemporary Eastern and Western musical styles. He recently completed an
outreach tour with Gao in Beijing, China, and also performed with members of toptier
orchestras and conservatories as the faculty accompanist of the University of Delaware’s Master
Players Festival.

Dr. Brower’s operatic experience includes two seasons as the chorus pianist and musical
assistant at Opera Philadelphia as well as productions with Toledo Opera, Opera in the Ozarks,
and the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy. He has worked as an accompanist and vocal coach at
Westminster Choir College, the University of Michigan, the College of New Jersey, and the
Curtis Institute’s Summerfest Young Artist Voice program.

He received his bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of
Music, and his master’s and doctorate degrees in Collaborative Piano from the University of
Michigan. In 2015, Dr. Brower was appointed Lecturer of Piano at Washington College in
Chestertown, MD.

Nathan Lofton, Conducting Apprentice