John Schlenck, a native of Indianapolis, graduated from the Eastman School of Music in 1957 with a major in composition and a Performer’s Certificate in Piano. In his final year he performed his own piano concerto with the Eastman Rochester Symphony Orchestra. Moving to New York City in 1957, he earned his living as an accompanist, serving for many years on the musical staff of the Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey Dance Schools. His interest in philosophy led him to the Vedanta Society of New York, where he served as music director from 1961 to 2013. This association led him to a study of Indian music and the incorporation of Indian elements into many of his compositions. Over the years he has composed many songs and several cantatas and oratorios based on Vedantic and other spiritual texts, as well as symphonies, concertos, solo and chamber works. Also an editor and writer, he has edited the journal American Vedantist for many years and has contributed many articles and editorials. He currently resides at the Vedanta Center of Atlanta, where he is in charge of the Center’s music program and occasionally gives lectures.
Schlenck’s interfaith oratorio Seek the Eternal was performed at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1993, with Judith Karzen conducting the Halevi Choral Society. His oratorio trilogy A Mission to the World, for chorus and orchestra, vocal quartet and narrators, was performed in 1994 at Alice Tully Hall, New York, with Judith Clurman conducting The New York Concert Singers, as part of the New York Vedanta Society’s centenary celebrations. Many of his compositions have been professionally recorded.