LEAH HOLLINGSWORTH | GENERAL AND ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Leah Swann Hollingsworth is 5BMF’s first General and Artistic Director, joining the organization in 2023 following the tenure of Artistic Director Michael Unterman. Leah enjoys a varied career in performing, writing, and arts administration. As a violist, she has performed as a chamber and orchestral musician on all three stages of Carnegie Hall and across Lincoln Center, with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, NYChoral, American Ballet Theater, NYC Ballet (including NYCB residencies at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and SPAC in Saratoga Springs, NY), IRIS Chamber Orchestra (Memphis, TN), The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, and in numerous chamber music performances around New York City. Leah was an Ensemble Connect (formerly ACJW) fellow from 2007-09 and a Tanglewood Music Center Fellow in the summers of 2006 and 2007.
As an arts administrator, Leah is passionate about using music to serve the community, whether through a multi-month songwriting workshop or a single concert. While on staff with the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall, Leah played a vital role in leading the Teaching Artist Collaborative and the Musical Connections program, and in equipping artists to perform in schools, correctional facilities, hospitals, homeless shelters, and elder care facilities. Through these programs and her work with Carnegie Hall Citywide (formerly the Neighborhood Concert Series), Leah helped plan and execute a broad range of concerts and workshops throughout New York City. More recently, Leah worked as Interim Manager for School Programs at the New York Philharmonic, managing school partnerships and training Teaching Artists. Leah’s passion for bringing music to all audiences and using music to build community is also evident in her work as Director of Development for Music Mondays, a pillar of the Upper West Side that presents nine free, innovative concerts each year.
As a writer, Leah is a New York City concert reviewer for The Strad and has written numerous features for Strings Magazine, The Strad, Playbill, and Symphony Magazine. She loves to tell the stories of musicians, ensembles, and organizations, and her writing draws from her training in narrative non-fiction writing at Yale University, as well as her two decades as a professional musician.
Leah lives in New York City with her husband and their three children, and enjoys running, writing, good food and wine, and her church community.
DONNA BREITZER | FOUNDING EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Donna Breitzer is an arts administrator, voice teacher and singer whose passion for bringing 5BMF’s exciting programming to new neighborhoods all over New York City was cultivated over her 17 years serving the organization in a leadership capacity. After co-founding Five Boroughs Music Festival with Jesse Blumberg in 2007, she helped oversee all aspects of daily operation, and was instrumental in the growth of 5BMF’s marketing efforts, audience reach, annual budget, and institutional support. She brought to the organization significant administration experience from over 10 years in the corporate world, where she worked in legal marketing and business development.
As a mezzo-soprano, Donna is an active ensemble singer and soloist. She joined the Extra Chorus of The Metropolitan Opera in 2014 and performs regularly with top concert ensembles and renowned orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, American Symphony Orchestra, and American Classical Orchestra, among others. Passionate about teaching, Donna has maintained a private voice studio for nearly 25 years.
Originally from Saratoga, CA, Donna earned a BMus/BA in Voice Performance and English from the University of Michigan, and a Master of Music degree in Voice from the New England Conservatory of Music. In 2024 she will complete post-graduate studies at NYU, earning an Advanced Certificate in Vocal Pedagogy. More at www.donnabreitzer.com.
JESSE BLUMBERG | FOUNDING ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Baritone Jesse Blumberg founded Five Boroughs Music Festival in 2007 and led the organization as Artistic Director for its first 12 years. His keen eye for creative and daring chamber music programming stemmed from his own extensive professional experience as an in-demand vocalist and chamber music collaborator. As a curator, he shaped every season to reflect 5BMF’s core mission of challenging the standard definition of ‘chamber music’, bringing in top artists and ensembles whose expertise spans multiple musical genres.
Jesse enjoys a busy schedule of opera, concerts, and recitals, performing repertoire from the Renaissance and Baroque to the 20th and 21st centuries. His performances have included the world premiere of The Grapes of Wrath at Minnesota Opera, Bernstein’s MASS at London’s Royal Festival Hall, various productions with Boston Early Music Festival, and featured roles with Atlanta Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Utah Opera, and Boston Lyric Opera. Recital highlights include appearances with the Marilyn Horne Foundation, New York Festival of Song, and Mirror Visions Ensemble. He has performed major concert works with American Bach Soloists, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Boston Baroque, Oratorio Society of New York, Apollo’s Fire, and on Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series. His 2016-2017 season includes debuts at Arion Baroque, Early Music Vancouver, and Opera Atelier, guest appearances with the baroque string band ACRONYM, and leading roles at the 2017 Boston Early Music Festival.
A native of Westfield, New Jersey, Jesse studied history and music at the University of Michigan and completed graduate studies in music at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Based in New York City since 2003, he hates to admit that he has only lived in two boroughs, but would hasten to note that while a resident of “Upstate Manhattan,” he would occasionally hear a trip on the A train described as “going into the city.” (He still harbors a not-so-secret distaste for such phrases.) Jesse now lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, site of many past and future 5BMF triumphs! More at www.jesseblumberg.com.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Emily Kennerley, President
Robert Conley, Treasurer
Katherine Peck, Secretary
ARTISTIC ADVISORY COUNCIL
Join our Board!
Five Boroughs Music Festival is looking for new volunteers to join our Board of Directors. If you share a passion for our mission and have time and skills to lend to our organization, we’d love to hear from you!