Renowned pianist lands in Dillon
May 14, 2009
Sometimes, the most talented musicians and composers end up in the most unlikely places.Such is the case with Len Rhodes. He works at his music researching, composing, playing and performing at least 14 hours a day, but its not because he wants to be famous.He already is famous.Now, he can do whatever he wants, so he chose to direct music at a church in Dillon and perform at a local restaurant.Before Rhodes accepted the position as director of music and organist at Lord of the Mountain Lutheran Church in Dillon in September, he made a name for himself internationally.After earning his diplomas in piano from the Royal Academy of Music and the London College of Music, he studied composition with a protg of Oliver Messiaen at Morley College, University of London.Since then, he has stacked up plenty of composing and arranging credits, from BBC Radio to the Virginia Shakespeare Festival, as well as signed with CBS Records as a keyboardist for the band Key West.In 1995, he founded the Pikes Peak Young Composers, a nonprofit that pairs young composers with professional critiques in an annual competition and also provides concert opportunities. The nonprofit is now world-renown, and Rhodes continues to serve as the artistic and executive director.
Simple. Hes spreading his passion for music. He teaches private lessons to serious students in Summit County, performs at Marcellos Italian Deli at Dillon Town Center, directs the choir at Lord of the Mountains and plays organ at the church.I want to pass on the same love of music as Ive experienced all my life, Rhodes said. Lord of the Mountains Pastor Joe Holub admits its unusual for a small congregation like his to attract someone like Rhodes.Hes just an unbelievably marvelous musician, Holub said. Youre just mesmerized by his playing.Holub said the quality of the choir has grown since Rhodes came on board, and these days, most of the congregation refrains from running out of church as the last song starts to play.Hes so good, a lot of people just sit and listen and wait until hes done, Holub said.He believes Rhodes is a big factor in the growth of the churchs congregation, in addition to program building. Rhodes has brought an open-minded approach to Sunday service music. His music spans genres and styles, from classical to spirituals and contemporary songs.Hes just very, very uplifting, Holub said.Though Rhodes started performing as a church organist at age 13, his experience has taken him from cathedrals to concert stages and country clubs. But now-a-days, he prefers to keep his shows low-key, rather than running around everywhere to perform.Im 50-something, and I dont need to be out playing five or six nights a week, Rhodes said. Your back starts getting a bit old for carrying your keyboard in and out of restaurants.But patrons can still catch him playing jazz piano at Marcellos in Dillon. Since hes friends with the owners, he wanted to help draw crowds to the restaurant during the tough economic times and beyond.And so far, he has garnered a following, which Marcellos co-owner Ron Holland only sees growing. We wanted music for a mature audience, and Len plays nice music to carry on a conversation, Holland said. Its different than anywhere else in Summit County.Holland plans to organize benefit concerts around Rhodes performances, the first of which would be to help the Lord of the Mountains mission to build homes in Peru. The date is yet to be determined, but call Marcellos for updates at (970) 468-0551 and visit Marcellos from 6-9 p.m. Fridays to hear Rhodes play.Were grateful that Len is in Summit County, Holland said. Hes not only a gifted musicians, hes one very nice person.