La Plata sophomore writes an original musical composition — Joins CCPS students for the national ACT-SO competition | details
La Plata sophomore writes an original musical composition – Joins CCPS students for the national ACT-SO competition
Many children like to listen to music, Isaiah DeLeonard likes to compose it. The La Plata High School sophomore spent nearly six months writing and arranging his first full composition “War March.” Written for a full orchestra, the composition is inspired by that created by Mark Lortz, composer and music arranger.
“In concert band, we played a piece called ‘Heart of Madness,'” DeLeonard said. “I really like this. It’s about Edgar Allen Poe and introduces his poems with a different melody.
With melodies inspired by Poe’s “The Bells,” “The Raven,” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” swirling around in his head, DeLeonard began work on “War March.” The nearly five-minute piece includes parts for a full orchestra, with DeLeonard using software to individually place and layer notes for each instrument.
“Isaiah’s songwriting is outstanding,” said David Monk, instrumental music teacher at North Point High School. “Listening to him, you would never guess that such a young person could have done that, let alone on his first try.” (DeLeonard said he’d like to copyright “War March,” so it’s not yet available to listen to online.)
DeLeonard admitted that he often thinks about music and melodies.
“I’m constantly thinking about music,” he said. “I have to capture the moment while it’s still there, otherwise it ends up ‘pretending’ to slip out of my mind and I’ve lost it.”
“War March” will be heard in July when DeLeonard presents the piece to the judges at a national competition in Atlantic City. Earlier this spring, the Charles County branch of the NAACP hosted a local Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological, and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) competition. Students who have won gold medals in the local competition, scoring between 95 and 100, are invited to the national competition.
Each year, high school students across the country embark on projects to hone their skills through the ACT-SO program. From visual and business arts to performing and culinary arts, participants work with community volunteers for a year to develop projects and performances. This work culminates in local and national events where students compete for scholarships and other awards.
STEM, performing arts, humanities, visual arts, business and gastronomy – each field has several sub-categories. For example, the STEM field houses priority areas such as architecture, earth and space sciences, medicine and health, etc. Humanities break down into poetry, original essay, short story and more. DeLeonard will compete in the Performing Arts – Music Composition category as well as the Architecture category in the STEM focus area. For the latter, DeLeonard designed the plans for a sports complex at Anacostia Park in Washington, D.C. While he enjoys playing and watching sports, especially basketball, music takes up most of his time, said DeLeonard.
“I take music very seriously,” he said. “I take a lot of things seriously,” admitted DeLeonard. “But music is one of those things that’s really close to my heart and that I’m passionate about.”
It is an obvious passion for those around him. “He’s an incredible student,” said La Plata vocal music teacher Stephanie Gioia. “He’s the kind of student who, if he sees or hears something that needs to be done musically, he does it.” His talent and dedication as an underclass interest Gioia to see where DeLeonard will go in the future. “I can’t imagine where he will be as a senior.” Monk, who teaches DeLeonard during private music lessons, also sees and is impressed by DeLeonard’s drive and talent. “Isaiah has huge potential,” Monk said. “He’s probably in the top 1% of private students I’ve taught. He’s going to be an amazing euphonium player – he’s “pretty good” already.
DeLeonard, who was named to the 2022 Junior All-State Band, has been interested in music for almost as long as he can remember. The eldest of three siblings born into a musical family, DeLeonard began taking piano lessons around the age of 8. From there he joined his elementary school band – first on trumpet, then on percussion. It was in college that he learned the euphonium, which has since become his “main” instrument. “My teacher needed a euphonium player, and we already had an army of snare drummers,” he said. “I still play drums, but I mainly play euphonium.”
At La Plata, DeLeonard was a member of nearly every band the school fostered, including the symphony band, orchestra, pit band, jazz band, and marching band. “The marching band is probably my favorite,” he said. “I spend a lot of time with my friends and play music.”
DeLeonard is interested in continuing his music studies in college. From there, he would like to play in a conservatory and possibly teach. But first, there’s the national ACT-SO competition. “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he was one of the best competitors at the national level,” Gioia said. Although she thinks DeLeonard has a bright future, she also said he was humble. “He can also just be a regular, silly student,” she said. “He doesn’t act like he knows how talented he is.”
DeLeonard isn’t the only Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) student to qualify for the ACT-SO national competition. Six CCPS students are due to compete next month. They are:
- Candice Carrington – Thomas Stone High School junior, poetry show.
- Candace Jackson – 2022 graduate of Maurice J. McDonough High School, Contemporary Vocal Music and Classical Vocal Music.
- Isaiah DeLeonard – La Plata High School sophomore, architecture and music composition.
- Kelsey Njembu – 2022 graduate of North Point High School, Classical Instrumental Music.
- Paris Roberson — 2022 McDonough graduate, written poetry.
- Shaniyah Hall – sophomore at North Point, math and poetry.
About the SCPC
Charles County Public Schools provides 27,000 K-12 students with an academically stimulating education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that provide a technologically advanced, progressive, and high-quality education that builds character, prepares for leadership, and prepares students for life, careers, and life. ‘Higher Education.
The Charles County Public School System does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or disability in its employment programs, activities or practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (Students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (Employees/Adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L Starkey Administration Building, PO Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations, call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.
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