I’m a musicologist and music theorist, and my scholarship focuses on women and music in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; music and screen history; and music and the early modern. I’m the founder and Executive Director of the Silent Film Sound and Music Archive and the founder of the Julia Perry Working Group. I’ve written six scholarly books, numerous book chapters and articles, and scholarly editions; and am the contributing editor or co-editor of three edited collections. I’ve been a research fellow at the Newberry Library, the Harry Ransom Center, the American Music Research Center at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Awards and support for my work include the 2022 Virgil Thomson Fellowship from the Society for American Music; the 2021 International Alliance for Women in Music’s Pauline Alderman Award; the Dena Epstein Award for Archival and Library Research from the Music Library Association; the Janet Levy Award from the American Musicological Society; the Society for American Music Sight and Sound Subvention; and the inaugural Judith Tick Fellowship from the Society for American Music. My PhD is from the University of Sunderland (UK).
I’m always happy to give talks or run workshops, either in-person or via Zoom, for all levels of students. Just email me at kendraleonard at pm dot me.
I’m also a librettist, lyricist, poet, and playwright. I’m inspired by history, language, nature, social issues, and myth. My libretti include Protectress, with music by Jessica Rudman, adapted from my book of the same name; Neither Created Nor Destroyed, composed by Rudman, commissioned and performed by ENAEnsemble (2023); Waters Rising, with music by Tim Hinck, commissioned by Arts Capacity and created in collaboration with inmates at Walker State Prison, premiered at the prison and in a public premiere in 2023; Sense of Self, with composer Lisa Neher, premiered by Opera Elect (2021); The Harbingers, with music by Rosśa Crean, premiered in 2019; and Marie Curie Learns to Swim, with music by Rudman, performed by Hartford Opera Theater in 2018. My lyrics include the song cycles From Wild Sleeping Waters (2024) and Four Songs by Lady Macbeth (2018), both with music by Rudman; the chamber work a tulip, iron (2023), with music by Angela Elizabeth Slater; Girls Love Horses (2020), with music by Rudman and commissioned by Ensemble For These Times; several rounds in composer Stacey Philipps’s Gathering Rounds collection (2022 and 2024); and songs for young singers with Neher (2020 and 2021).
My novella in verse, Protectress, was awarded a star by Kirkus magazine, which also named it one of the top 100 indie books of 2023. I’ve also written two poetry chapbooks, Grab (2023) and Making Mythology (2019). I’ve published poems in numerous journals and magazines, have won the Marner’s Award from Bewildering Stories, and have been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net Awards. My plays include Moon-Crossed: a play in play with All’s Well That Ends Well and Tell Us What You’re Doing We Want to Know How You’re Coping with the Pandemic. I dabble in short stories as well.
I teach poetry and other creative writing classes through Writespace Houston.
Although I trained as a cellist and specialized in new and recent music, my career was cut short by the effects of lupus, an autoimmune disease that attacks my joints. Happily, I’ve found that I can play the viola da gamba, an early modern instrument, without any issues. I play treble viol and pardessus de viole for Les Touches, a professional Houston-area viol ensemble sponsored by Viols of Houston.
If you’re using my name in a review or program, please use my full name: Kendra Preston Leonard. If you’re alphabetizing my work, it goes under Leonard.
You can email me at kendraleonard at pm dot me. I’m also on BlueSky as @kleonardphd.