by Cyndy Rodgers
It was Albert Einstein who said "Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."
Lennon Leppert, at age 17, stands as a testament to Mr. Einsteinís words. Although quite knowledgeable about many things, most especially music, it is his imagination that launches us on the journey.
In his original composition "Die Himmel Zimmerfluct," German for "The Heavens Suite," he takes us through a 24-hour day in the southwest. Each movement of this seven-movement suite symbolizes a different segment of the day. This work of art was inspired by the horse-laden countryside, mixed with modern-day suburbia that is the Conejo Valley. Lennon is gifted with the ability to look out the car window in his hometown and express the sites in an Aaron Copland-style symphony.
On January 28th at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza in front of a thousand residents, he introduced The Heavens Suiteís first movement, The Heavens, Morning ("Die Himmel Im tag). This was also Lennonís conducting debut leading the Conejo Valley Youth Orchestra in what will be their signature piece (www.cvyo.com).
The Heavens, Morning begins by awaking the audience to the new day with a symbol crash. It continues by creating a mood of anticipation. Lennonís chords are filled with emotion as he utilizes ten percussionists. In addition to his percussive orchestration and polychords, the strings paint a Western landscape. Together the orchestra resonates, taking us on a journey Americana.
How did this young man get to this point, to be finishing high school and have conducting and writing credits in his resume? Well would you be surprised to know he was home schooled? Of course not.
Lennonís parents, Michael and Mary, publishers of The Link, have always provided him a musically-rich environment. Named after the late, great Beatle, John Lennon, he showed musical interest at age three when he began playing songs by ear on a miniature electronic keyboard. His parents provided him piano and voice lessons at six, and drum lessons at 10. At 14, he added study of both the trumpet and cello and at 16, added orchestral percussion to his arsenal of instruments. He also apprenticed to a working film composer, learning music editing as well as developing the skill of knowing what music might fit in a given setting. Recently, Lennon has been studying conducting, as well.
In addition to music lessons, the Lepperts removed television from their home when Lennon was very young. They filled it with a variety of music, from classical to jazz. Lennon will cite his days playing Legosģ and listening to David Newman ("Mighty Ducks") and John Williams as a key to his present-day path.
Mary, his mom remembers it differently, often feeling a little neglectful because she wasnít "doing school" all the time. Instead, she and her husband were launching The Link and would fit teaching Lennon around the business day demands. Lennon has learned much about the business world along the way, but music is his future.
Three years ago he joined the Conejo ValleyYouth Orchestra, a community-based music program that highlights the most musically gifted youth. Acceptance into the program is through auditions.
Artistic Director Bill Benson points to Lennonís tenacity as a key component to his success. "Every time I needed something he would say ĎI can do thatí," he says. "Weíre talking about a multi-talented young man here, who is driven. In a few years people are going to know his name," says Maestro Benson.
Lennon has already composed short pieces called "cues" for the television industry and while he is continuing to obtain work in this area, he hopes to add film composing and other projects in the near future. He already has professional credits for composing some of the music for a Civil War educational CD-Rom and three Discovery Channel programs.
His parents are in full support. Just this year, the family has built a professional recording studio in their home. The Lepperts practice the words of Mark Twain who said, "I never let my schooling interfere with my education." They have provided the encouragement and let Lennon do the rest. The result is an imagination thatís bound to "encircle the world." - C.R.
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