Young composer chosen to perform own piece

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Los Lunas resident Andreas Landstedt, an eighth-grader at the School of Dreams Academy, is one of 17 preteen composers selected for the 2013 New Mexico Hey Mozart! project, a statewide program that encourages children to create music.

Young music writers from around the state submitted more than 130 original melodies to the project, but only 17 were selected.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Young composer and pianist Andreas Landstedt, 12, will perform a solo concert of his winning song, “Winter Toccata,” at the National Hispanic Cultural Center Albuquerque Journal Theater at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 1. He is one of 17 young composers selected out of 130 submissions in the state’s Hey Mozart competition.

“It was pretty great, because I have submitted works before, such as “The Blizzard,” said Landstedt. “I had never heard anything back from the Hey Mozarts! But this year, I did. It’s a pretty good feeling.”

Each winner will play their work at the National Hispanic Cultural Center’s Albuquerque Journal Theater in a free concert at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 1.

Landstedt has been taking private piano lessons with Falko Steinbach, who teaches music at the University of New Mexico.

“Andreas is a wonderful student,” Steinbach said. “He is a fine pianist and also a fine composer, very sensitive and a fast learner. He is one of the most talented students I have had in this age group.”

His earliest instructor was Jeanne Sharpe, who has worked for Bosque Farms Elementary on contract. She taught him how to write music down on paper.

Sharpe said Landstedt was born with music compositions in his head.

“He just loves to sit down and improvise, like Mozart or Beethoven,” Sharpe said. “I think his winning this competition is testament to his ability.”

The first composition he set to paper with Sharpe’s help was “The Blizzard.”

Later, his parents, Fredrik and Brenda Landstedt, bought him computer software to help expedite writing his music down.

His winning composition, “Winter Toccata,” starts out quietly with delicate notes, and builds into beautiful melodic refrains filled with crescendos and jamming piano riffs.

After his solo performance, Landstedt’s composition will also be performed by the Albuquerque Concert Band, orchestrated by UNM music professor Jeffery “JD” Shaw.

The young prodigy began playing piano when he was 5 years old. His mother, Brenda Landstedt, started all four of her children on the piano at early ages, she said.

His older brother, Gabriel, has been a big influence because he is an accomplished pianist and has won twice at the state Professional Music Teacher’s National Association competitions the past two years.

“He’s very prolific musically,” said Brenda. “He’s home-schooled so that he could dedicate hours every day on the piano, so I think everybody’s affected by it.

“The little brother picks it up; when one family member does it, the others follow.”

When Landstedt plays piano there is nothing else in his mind, he said. He’s in the zone.

He tries to practice piano daily for at least an hour. His ambition is to be a professional composer and concert pianist.

“He’s constantly improvising,” Brenda says. “I give him a hard time because he has music that he’s working on for his teacher, and he prefers sometimes, to improvise.

“He’ll hear a song and sit down and play it. He’s easily distracted … re-interpreting something he heard and playing it by giving it a new mood.”

Compositions just come to the 12-year-old. He pulls a melody from the ethers, then works on it until he has a full musical piece.

But he has done only minor studio recitals, he said, never a public performance, and he is excited as well as a little nervous.

He said it will be a thrill to hear his song performed by the Albuquerque Concert Band.

“I can’t wait to see that,” said Brenda. “This is a statewide competition, so families will be coming in from all over the state. It’s a pretty big deal.”


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.