César Leal, Artistic Director
Dr. César Leal holds a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Kentucky, a Bachelor’s degree in music performance from Javeriana University in Bogotá, Colombia, and a Master’s in instrumental conducting from Florida International University. Dr. Leal is currently the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Sewanee Symphony Orchestra at The University of the South where he also teaches courses in musicology. Additionally, he serves as a member of both the faculty and the artistic advisory committee of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival.
Leal’s activities as a Conductor and Musicologist often intersect. In September 2013, in collaboration with the Lexington Ballet, he directed a full-stage production devoted to Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes. He has led ensembles across the U.S., Panama, Colombia, France, and the Ukraine. He has recorded works by several Latin American composers and has presented scholarly papers in the U.S., Canada, Greece, Japan, Italy, France, England, Peru, Colombia, and Switzerland. An advocate of young musicians, Leal often teaches conducting workshops and acts as a guest clinician with youth orchestras in the U.S. and abroad.
Jessica Usherwood, Managing Director
Soprano Jessica Usherwood is an active performer and soloist. As a recitalist, she has performed works including Messiaen’s Chants de terre et de ciel, William Bolcom’s Let Evening Come, André Previn’s Honey and Rue, and Eric Whitacre’s Five Hebrew Love Songs. In addition to her work with EnVaGe, Dr. Usherwood is the soprano and former board member of the Chicago-based group International Chamber Artists (ICA). She premiered an ICA commissioned work by Eric Malmquist entitled If You Travel Far Enough for soprano and chamber ensemble, and has performed on Chicago’s “Live from WFMT” recital series. Usherwood has presented chamber works such as Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Mozart’s Requiem, Britten’s Les Illuminations, Ginastera’s Cantos Del Tucumán, Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, and Morton Feldman’s Journey To The End Of Night.
Dr. Usherwood currently serves as Assistant Professor of Music at The University of the South in Sewanee, TN. Her research focuses on music entrepreneurship, career development, nonprofit management, and innovative arts programming. Usherwood holds a doctorate in voice performance and literature from the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University with minor concentrations in arts administration and music education. She earned a professional diploma in opera and master’s degree in voice performance and vocal pedagogy from the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University, and a bachelor’s degree from Lee University.
Nikolasa Tejero, Production Director
Nikolasa Tejero is Associate Professor of Clarinet and Woodwind Area Coordinator at The University of Tennessee–Chattanooga, where she also coaches chamber music and researches Latin American music traditions (in 2014, Scholars’ Press published her book Music and Culture: Folklore in Cuban Clarinet Music). An active performer, lecturer, and clinician, Dr. Tejero has presented at conferences and festivals across four continents, including the International Clarinet Association’s ClarinetFest®, College Music Society, Spoleto USA, International Music Festival, Southeastern Composers League, and the New Dischord Festival, among others. Celebrated for her engaging programs, she appears regularly as recitalist and soloist. The Post and Courier, (Charleston, SC) has described her playing as “…[possessing] technical and musical mastery…rhythmic and expressive flavor.” A proponent new music, she has premiered many compositions written for her (including multiple works by Mario Abril, Gary Nash, Tim Hinck, Peter Temko, and Harvey Stokes). Tejero is a member of Carl Fischer Music’s Trade Winds Recording Ensemble, which records annually the publisher’s newly-released compositions.
Dr. Tejero is an advocate for the arts as a vehicle to effect positive change in our communities. To this end, she has created events like the River City Clarinet Winter Festival, which during its five-year run drew participants to Chattanooga from across the US. More recently, she has partnered with the Chattanooga Public Library to create Symphonic Tales, a music-and-literacy program for young children, now in its fourth season.