Headshot of Leslee Wood in a bright red blouse with a wry smile.

Leslee Wood is a passionate performer-creator whose work combines rigorous scholarship with exquisite artistry.

Soprano Leslee Wood and theorbo player rehearsing at the Jewell Early Music Festival.


Described as “haunting, sensual, and earthy,” Leslee Wood’s music draws inspiration from the sounds of the natural world and from humankind’s tenuous relationships with the earth and with each other. Loss and redemption are persistent themes in her work, which has explored contemporary issues from gun violence and sexual assault to climate change. As both a performer and scholar, her affinity for the musical practices of the middle-ages lends a timeless quality to her compositions. Chant, improvisation, sophisticated rhythmic counterpoint, and early contrapuntal techniques combine with colorful, searing harmonies and contemporary forms.


As a vocalist, Leslee is an active performer of both early and contemporary music. With a warm, crystal-clear high soprano and expansive lower-register, she is a versatile singer equally at home as a soloist, cantor, or chorister with extensive experience in one-on-a-part polyphony. Leslee holds a master’s degree in musicology and her scholarship focuses on the socio-musical practices of medieval France. Putting equal focus on primary source study and practical realization, Leslee has presented/performed her research at the Historical Performance Institute at IU, Newberry Library, Mid-America Medieval Association, and the Jewell Early Music Festival. In 2018, she was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities grant for participation in a multi-disciplinary study of Trouvère song.

Vocal quartet Ignea Strata performing in an intimate recital space.

Leslee is the founder and artistic director of Ignea Strata, a vocal ensemble noted for “sublime execution of a blended, cohesive sound ...that offers a unique musical and intellectual challenge.” Under her direction, the group’s meticulously curated concerts intimately engage both the aesthetic and political context of the music, bridging centuries-long gaps between early music and contemporary listeners.

Learn more at igneastrata.org.

Above: KC VITAs promotional video featuring composer-in-residence Leslee Wood, produced 2016.

Since 2016, Leslee has served as composer-in-residence to Kansas City-based new music ensemble KC VITAs. In that time, her collaborations with the group have included “On the Back of the Black” an oratorio for choir, soloists, and chamber ensemble; a new setting of the Anglican evensong service; and several shorter works for both choir and soloists. She has also performed with KC VITAs since its founding in 2015, appearing as both a featured soloist and choral soprano.

Learn more at kcvitas.org.