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27-Sep-2019

Los Angeles based composer Leonard ‘Lenny’ Stack Passes Away - USA

Lenny StackVideo above: This is the commissioned accordion orchestra piece that the World Accordion Orchestra performed August 18, 2007 on the Grand Finale Concert of the Coupe Mondiale in Alexandria, VA. 166 players from 13 nations and 20 USA states.

Renowned Los Angeles based composer, arranger and music director Leonard ‘Lenny’ Stack has passed away. Born on 18 June 1938, Lenny passed away on 22 September 2019 aged 81. Lenny is survived by his wife Lora.

During his career, Los Angeles native Lenny Stack wrote arrangements for the Doc Severinsen Tonight Show Band, the Buddy Rich Big Band and the Louis Bellson Big Band. A talented composer, Lenny wrote original songs for recording artists including Diana Ross and Dionne Warwick. In addition to being an Emmy Award winning arranger, he had also been the musical director, composer and arranger for many Television series, specials and motion pictures including the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards and the American Music Awards. Lenny Stack's Big Band is known for its appealing arrangements and excellent execution by some of Los Angeles’s most talented musicians.

Leonard (Lenny) Stack received his Bachelor of Music in Composition from the University of Southern California (USC) and studied composition with Halsey Stevens, Robert Linn, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Miklos Rosza.

He has published numerous works for various classical ensembles consisting of: Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Ballads No. 1 and No. 2 for Flute and Piano, Scherzo for Saxophone Quartet and Scherzo for 3 Clarinets and Bass Clarinet published by Southern Music Company in addition to two works for Accordion Orchestra.

His two compositions for Accordion Orchestra include ‘Lest We Forget’ and ‘Film Noir: City at Night.’ Both works were composed at the request of his close friend and Los Angeles based work colleague Liz (Elizabeth) Finch.

Lest We Forget was commissioned by the UMKC Accordion Orchestra for the inaugural World Accordion Orchestra held at the 2007 American Accordionists' Association (AAA) and Accordionists and Teachers Guild, International (ATG) jointly hosted CIA Coupe Mondiale World Accordion Championships Festival in Alexandria, VA (Washington, DC), USA.

The programmatic element in it deals with the insanity and misery leading up to and resulting from war. Contained in the composition are jingoistic cries for victory overwhelmed by the suffering of humanity. The music begins with a bleak and austere opening section, which then segues into the first combative episode. This scheme repeats itself throughout the composition. After the battle is a sad, wistful melody followed by another disruption of the peace. Then, a fugal section is employed, followed by the inverted fugal subject meant to depict the clash of opposing armies. Then there is a recapitulation of that sad, wistful melody which serves as a short reprieve between battles. When the military drums begin we have the final clashing of armies with a trite patriotic theme in the background. Finally all is still, victor and vanquished lie together mortally wounded and the short angry coda summarizes the entire folly.

Marking his first accordion composition, Lenny attended the World Premiere performance of Lest We Forget, conducted by Joan Cochran Sommers on Saturday, 18 August 2007.

His second work Film Noir: City at Night was performed by World Accordion Orchestra II in Glasgow, Scotland on Saturday, 25 October, 2008, also conducted by Joan Cochran Sommers. The programmatic idea for Film Noir, is of a dark deserted street at night where menace lurks anywhere. The second theme announces a "floozy" sauntering in. The middle section increases in tension and violence as all sorts of mayhem occurs. Finally the main theme is recapitulated and it ends with a quiet ominousness. This music is reminiscent of the film noir movies of the late 1940's and early 1950's.

Film Noir: City at Night has since been performed under the direction of Joan C. Sommers by groups such as the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC) Accordion Orchestra (2009), the ATG Festival Orchestra (2019) and is to be performed by the Las Vegas International Accordion Orchestra in October.

A member of ASCAP and the Television Academy, Lenny won the coveted Emmy Award for arranging for the television special, "Screen Actor's Guild 50th Anniversary and an Emmy nomination as Musical Director of the television special, "Disneyland's 30th Anniversary Celebration."

Picture: Leonard Stack (right) with World Accordion Orchestra Concert Master Kevin Friedrich and conductor Joan Cochran Sommers in 2007 at the conclusion of the World Premiere of Lest We Forget.
Lenny, Joan and Kevin
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