by Daniel Hathaway
Cleveland native Martin Kessler graduated from Heights High, then went off to Harvard College, where he conducted the student-run Bach Society Orchestra and Leverett House opera productions. After a year in Europe on a traveling fellowship, the composer-conductor came back to town for graduate studies, and went on to log impressive years of service with several area institutions.
After 32 years on the faculty of University School, where he taught until 2011, 38 years as conductor of the Suburban Symphony, and 15 years at the helm of Choral Arts Cleveland, Kessler will officially mark his retirement in a concert by Suburban and Choral Arts on Wednesday, May 16 at 8:00 pm at the Maltz Performing Arts Center in University Circle.
“There’s something youth-inducing about doing something repetitively,” Kessler said in a recent telephone conversation. “You feel like you’re the same person you were when you started.” The conductor added that he feels it’s better to leave a little bit early than a little bit too late. “My mother retired at 70 from a career as a psychology professor, then ran a bookstore for 20 years. I’m using her as a model.”