Welcome, Ellen!

As we prepare to announce Clerestory’s twelfth season in the coming weeks, we wanted to let you know another bit of news first. Clerestory has hired its first ever administrative assistant, Ellen Leslie. Ellen is a wonderful soprano at the start of what we hope will be a busy career. She is a recent masters recipient and continues to work at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. You can read more about Ellen below and visit her website to hear her sing. 

Clerestory audience members, patrons, and followers on social media will hear a lot from Ellen over the coming season, and we hope many of you will get to meet her in person at an upcoming concert. Welcome, Ellen!


Winner of the 2016 Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions in the San Francisco District, Ellen Leslie is quickly becoming a sought-after singer both in the United States and abroad. Critics have lauded her “absolutely beautiful” (Opus Colorado), “bright, clear” (The Berkeley Daily Planet) and “radiant…lovely trilling soprano” (San Jose Mercury News), and her “sweet, strong tone and earnest demeanor” (San Francisco Classical Voice). 

This summer, Ellen made her German stage debut as Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) in Schloss Merode, and as Rosane (Vivaldi La verità in cimento) in Leipzig. Recent engagements in the Bay Area include Micaëla (Carmen) and Lady Billows (Albert Herring) at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Damigella and Amore (L’Incoronazione di Poppea) with the SFCM Baroque Ensemble, covering the role of Elisabetta (Roberto Devereux) with Pocket Opera, an evening of Vivaldi and Handel cantatas, a horn collaboration featuring Schubert’s Auf dem Strom, and two full solo recitals. A skilled interpreter of the lyric soprano roles in the Gilbert & Sullivan canon, Ellen has most recently sung Josephine (HMS Pinafore) and the title role in Patience with San Francisco’s acclaimed Lamplighters Music Theatre.

A lover of new music in all forms, Ellen sang in the 2015 and 2016 workshops for Santa Fe Opera’s 2017 production of The (r)Evolution of Steve Jobs, with music by acclaimed composer Mason Bates and conducted by Michael Christie. She has also premiered songs and opera roles by several emerging Bay Area composers, and received a grant to commission a full song cycle, “Charmes,” by Bay Area composer Eric Choate, which premiered in 2015.

Having made her oratorio debut at age 19 as the soprano solo in Carmina Burana with the Lamont Symphony Orchestra, Ellen is also an accomplished choral and orchestral soloist. Since the 2012-2013 season, she has had the annual privilege of singing with the Colorado Ballet in their production of The Nutcracker. Recent engagements also have included Porgy and Bess in Concert (2012) and a Fourth of July extravaganza (2014) with the Dallas Symphony, and The Planets (2013) with the New York Philharmonic, all at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. She also sang backup for Josh Groban in his 2013 performance with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra at Red Rocks Ampitheatre.

Ellen grew up on an Irwin 37 sailboat in the San Francisco Bay and spent her childhood sailing around the world with her family. She earned concurrent undergraduate degrees from the University of Denver–a BM in Voice Performance and a BA in French, both summa cum laude. She returned to California to for her MM at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music under acclaimed soprano Sylvia Anderson.

In 2016, Ellen split her time between San Francisco and Leipzig, Germany, where she completed her studies with soprano Caroline Stein on full scholarship at the Hochschule für Musik “Feliz Mendelssohn Bartholdy,” earning a Postgraduate Diploma in Voice in conjunction with SFCM. She has also lived in Strasbourg, France, where she researched a thesis on the sociopolitical climate surrounding Bizet’s Carmen; there, she was invited to sing Michael Tippett’s A Child of our Time with conductor Carlo Rizzi and the Orchèstre Philharmonique de Strasbourg.

Ellen lives in San Francisco and will marry her fiancé, composer/conductor Eric Choate, in September.