Artist. Soldier. Leader. Alex Legeros wears many hats, but the one that seems to encompass all of his work and studies is that of arts advocate.
Legeros, who grew up in Edina, MN, is the son of two artists. His father, Nicholas Legeros, is a bronze sculptor who created the Sid Hartman piece in front of Target Center and the Goldy sculpture in front of Coffman Union (“I did the tail,” the younger Legeros adds). His mother is an accomplished watercolor and pastel artist.
This early exposure to the arts forged a connection to the local creative communities that endured into adulthood.
Legeros studied philosophy as an undergraduate and came across the Master of Professional Studies in Arts and Cultural Leadership while at a summer job in college admissions.
"There was nothing it didn't have," he says.
So how does one become a bassoon player?
“My high school band director said we needed a bass clarinet and a bassoon,” Legeros explains. “And I asked, ‘Which one can play lower?’ And he said ‘bassoon.’ In eighth grade you have certain priorities and one of mine was to play the lowest instrument.”
Legeros claims he was never a true student of music but appreciates how it is such a specialized skill. He can walk into a chamber music group or orchestra and play the bassoon part. “If you give me the opportunity, I can make great music.”
He now plays in an Army Reserve band (one of only two military bands in Minnesota), the John Phillip Sousa Memorial Band, the Kenwood Symphony Orchestra, and various other local orchestras and bands. The bassoon—with its double reed, considerable weight, complex fingerings, and thumb hole—is arguably the hardest of the woodwinds to master.
“The bassoon is certainly not the first instrument anyone plays, and it shouldn't be,” he laughs. “Because it will be the last.”
Legeros admits that he is different from most soldiers in that he joined the military almost by accident. A clarinetist he knew told him there was an opening in the Army Reserve band, so he went to the rehearsal thinking he was just filling in, but they were actually recruiting him.
He enlisted in 2012 and spent 10 weeks in basic training and 10 weeks in musical training. “Music has a very important role in the life of soldiers,” he says. “How many times have I showed up at a concert hall and the audience is in the shadows, and I think I play pretty well, and everyone applauds and I go home?
“But with every gig in the Army, people are there because they're a veteran, they have family members who are deployed, or it's a troop return ceremony, or it's for troops that are deployed. This music means something to them. There's nothing quite like it on the civilian side.”
Last year Legeros made sergeant, and while he hasn’t been in any dangerous situations, he can handle any traumatic injury and has received substance abuse training, equal opportunity training, and sexual harassment training.
“It builds a sensitivity to what it means to work and be a human being.”
Executive Director and Beyond
Legeros is now executive director of The Musical Offering, a 40-year-old organization composed of top musicians from the Minnesota Orchestra and university schools of music. He has doubled the amount of concerts they perform each year and is continually seeking original ways to make classical music appealing to new audiences.
“We try to use new tools like YouTube, social media, and audio and visual content. We want to take risks and innovate to attract and retain an audience,” he says.
The ACL program, he continues, was valuable because it introduced him to the complex organizational issues he would encounter once he graduated. “The instructors and guest lecturers brought outside perspectives to the classroom, and you put it in the bank because even though you might not have had that experience yet, you might.”
"The leadership, the executive training, and access to top quality professors and professionals let me work at the ability that I wanted to."
Legeros, who is also a freelance writer and copyeditor for websites and small businesses, enjoys being an executive director, but he is also drawn to public art and arts education, in particular issues that explore philanthropy and the values our society holds.
“Where is the narrative arc in the arts today?” he asks. “Do we not think of ourselves historically? Where is the tide going? I want to make Minnesota pop up in the art scene.”
Tips for Future Students
"You really can get something out of every minute of every class. Get out of it what you need. Take the opportunity to learn from others. Network and focus."
Alex is a recipient of the Julius Nolte-Harold Miller Scholarship.