Doris Leese, the Choral Society’s dynamic and beloved executive director for 20 years, died June 7th. In her honor, members of the Society, under Music Director Mark Mangini, will perform Mozart’s Ave Verum and the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s “Messiah” at her funeral this Saturday, June 16, at the East Hampton Presbyterian Church on Main Street. The service begins at 11:00 o’clock and is open to the public.
The following tribute to Doris’s musical vision appeared in the program of our 2011 holiday concert, which was a performance of “Messiah.”
Doris Leese Dedication
Doris Leese joined the Choral Society of the Hamptons almost 40 years ago, shortly afer she and her husband Bill and their four children settled in East Hampton. She had graduated from Queens College in Charlotte, North Carolina, with a degree in Vocal Performance and Music Education, and continued her studies at the Juilliard School in New York. Singing has always been a vital part of her life. She worked for many years as a professional vocal coach and has sung as a soloist or choir member in many churches on the East End.
In 1980 she became Executive Director of the Choral Society, a position she filled with skill and enthusiasm for more than 20 years. She organized and led two singing tours for the Choral Society in Europe, served on numerous committees, hosted board meetings, and sang in every concert. Bill Leese, who was president and CEO of the First National Bank of East Hampton, also played a crucial behind-the-scenes role in the Choral Society’s operation, as treasurer, chief usher, and friend to all. One of Doris’ special interests, which Bill shared and encouraged, was to establish a scholarship program through which each year the Choral Society could help young singers receive professional training; two such scholarships were set up under her guidance several years ago. And now a third scholarship has been established, and will be known as the Doris and William Leese Scholarship for Vocal Performance and Music Education.
Bill Leese died in 2007, and Doris retired from active participation in the Choral Society earlier this year, but their decades of dedication and enthusiasm have left an indelible mark on the Choral Society. And so we affectionately dedicate this performance of Messiah—one of her favorite works—to Doris Leese, and to the memory of her husband, Bill.
Her family has suggested that donations in lieu of flowers be made to the Choral Society, P.O. Box 1031, Bridgehampton, NY 11932.