Sacramento Symphonic Winds - A Sacramento Community Concert BandTim Smith, Music & Artistic Director
Sacramento Capitol Sacramento Symphonic Winds - A Sacramento Community Concert Band Tim Smith, Music & Artistic Director
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Lester E. Lehr, D. M. A.

Dr. Lehr is a distinguished and much respected member of the Sacramento Music Community. Born in South Dakota, he moved to Sacramento in 1947. His education includes a B.A. from CSUS, Sacramento, a M.M. in Music Literature and Performance from The Eastman School of Music of the Rochester University, and a Doctorate in Musical Arts from U.S.C. where he was a teaching assistant to William A. Schaefer. Dr. Lehr studied trombone with Norman J. Hunt, Emory Remington, Robert Marstellar, Byron Peebles and Lewis Van Haney and conducting with Frederick Westphal, Paul White, Frederick Fennell and William A. Schaefer.


Dr. Lehr's professional career includes 16 years as Principal Trombone with the Sacramento Symphony, over 15 years with the Sacramento Municipal Band and California State Fair and Exposition Orchestra. He has played in numerous local professional groups in Sacramento and San Francisco, Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus, and Polack Bros. Circus. During his professional engagements, he has worked with many well-known artists including Jimmy Durante, Bob Hope, Nelson Riddle, Nat King Cole, the Andrew Sisters, Mitzy Gaynor, and Liberace. And, he has also recorded with Jan and Dean.


His teaching career includes all levels of music education, elementary through college. He was Director of Bands at American River College, where he conducted the Concert, Marching and Symphonic Bands. Dr. Lehr has been a guest clinician, and is a conductor and adjudicator in California, Nevada, and Hawaii. In the spring of 1989, he was presented with the Music Educators National Conference Excellence in Music Education Award. In the summer of 1989, he produced and conducted a historical digital recording of original ragtime music by Stephen Kent Goodman entitled "Is There Any Ragtime on Mars?"


Dr. Lehr directed the Sacramento Valley Symphonic Band from 1984 to 1989 and was invited to perform at the Second Conference of the World Association of Bands and Ensembles in Kortrijk, Belgium and tour Europe in 1985, participate in the Canadian 1986 World's Fair, and toured New Zealand and Australia in 1988 performing at the 1988 World's Fair in Brisbane, and performed for the California Music Educators Association. He is the former conductor of the Sacramento Valley Symphonic Band and Sierra Nevada Winds in Grass Valley, California completing a performing tour of the northwest in 1994 to Oregon, Washington, Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. In addition, Dr. Lehr co-produced, conducted, and wrote the musical arrangements for the bay area based “Oh Mr. Sousa!”, an operetta based on the life and times of John Philip Sousa with 9 singers and 22 musicians. It toured the United States from 2005 to 2015.


Under the leadership of Dr. Lehr, community bands in the Sacramento valley area grew from one to four bands and the formation of a new professional wind ensemble in Sacramento, The California Wind Orchestra, under his direction which was a logical product of this growth, and a celebration of Sacramento's recognition of the value and heritage of the American Band. He served as conductor from 1994 to 2004. He founded the Sacramento Symphonic Winds in 2001, conducting from 2001 to 2016. He is now retired, Conductor Emeritus, and plays trombone in the band.