Swarthmore Music welcomes Leonard Ranallo as an Associate in Performance. Leonard teaches the new course Music 052: Class Study of Guitar, which is a group guitar class aimed at teaching students basic musicianship skills and facility on the instrument. The course is geared towards musicians of all levels, from complete beginners to those with more familiarity with the guitar. Leonard will also be holding a Lunch Hour Concert right after fall break on October 23rd in Parrish Parlors at 12:30pm.
Music has been a part of Leonard’s life since playing French horn in his elementary school wind ensemble. Although his French horn career did not last, he picked up guitar at the age of 10 and continued fostering his love for music into his high school years, where he became truly “obsessed with music.” Since then, Leonard has had an accomplished career as a guitarist, debuting in 2012 as a concerto soloist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. He holds a Master’s Degree from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow along with a Bachelor of Music from the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio, and has performed in festivals in the US, Italy, and Scotland. Though he studied classical guitar at Oberlin, he also enjoys listening to and playing a wide variety of genres from various types of rock to jazz. Speaking specifically about Oberlin, Leonard described it as a positive experience and partially why he feels so drawn to Swarthmore.
“[Oberlin was] very similar to Swarthmore,” he says, “in terms of the look of the campus, the layout of the academics … so it feels familiar to be [at Swarthmore].” When asked about what excites him about music, Leonard points to the connection he feels when he plays with other musicians. “It could be two strangers, your best friend, whatever,” he remarks, “that moment when you have a connection and click in … that moment when you become one, that is the magic moment.”
Being an educator is nothing new to Leonard as he has taught workshops in guitar, worked at Peabody Preparatory in Baltimore, and even has a private teaching studio in Philadelphia. However, his guitar course is the first time he has taught at the college level and he has thoroughly enjoyed it so far. He describes the students as “very motivated and present” and “engaged from the get go.” Ranallo has worked diligently to adjust the pace of the course to make sure students are “appropriately challenged but not getting discouraged.” For those interested in learning guitar or strengthening their skills on the instrument, the course will be offered again in the spring semester.
To learn more about Leonard, you can visit his website. Upcoming performances on campus include a Lunch Hour Concert at noon in Parrish Parlors on October 23rd, which Leonard says “will feature all Brazilian music ranging from classical to choro to Brazilian jazz. Composers include Villa Lobos, Gnattali, Guinga, & Baden Powell” and his guitar class will perform on December 8th at 12:30 pm in the Lang Music Concert Hall.