Leo Cornelius Nestor, 1948-2019

Leo Nestor was my choral director in Washington DC at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for one year a long time ago. He was brilliant. I made my national cable TV debut (EWTN, but hey, it’s still national) singing Barber’s “Crucifixion” from the Hermit Songs on Good Friday. The only reason I left after a year (or was it two? I don’t remember) was because I was offered a gig at St. Patrick’s in DC that didn’t involve a weeknight rehearsal, and at the time, I thought that might be a good thing for my first marriage (Spoiler: it didn’t help).

I coined the term “mezzoid” in response to Leo’s request for the “altoids” to sing something. Apparently he continued to use it after I was gone. I am so proud.

Leo was profane and devout, nurturing and harsh, humorous and deadly serious. He was also one of the greatest musicians I’ve ever worked with in my life. I’ve worked with temperamental “geniuses” before and since. None of them were people with whom I’d work again if I could avoid it. Leo was someone I wish I’d had the opportunity to work with after my return to the East Coast.

Even though I only worked with him briefly, Leo Cornelius Nestor was one of the most influential musicians I’ve ever known.

If you want to know more about Leo (and you should, especially if you are a church musician – and if you’re not now, you very well may be), please read my friend and colleague John Boulanger’s blogpost here. He knew Leo better than I did and goes into much greater depth about him as a composer, conductor, and Catholic than I ever could.

Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio

Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass. As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination. Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.

One thought on “Leo Cornelius Nestor, 1948-2019

  1. Thanks for these words, Christine, and for the shout-out. I tried to make my post informative for those who aren’t in the biz, hence its (perhaps excessive). But your “Leo was profane…” sentence above wraps him up more succinctly than I could.

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