Hailed as “an excellent guitarist” (David Brandon) and “very talented” (John Sutherland), Leon Christian is celebrated for charismatically and virtuosically bringing to life a broad repertoire of musical styles. Whether playing the earliest scores transcribed for the classical guitar or even the most contemporary progressive rock compositions on electric, his engaging performances entertain and delight audiences of all sizes and ages.
An accomplished classical guitarist, Leon regularly performs concerti with Northwest orchestras and in solo recitals. Leon was selected to be the first guitar soloist to perform with the Federal Way Symphony under Maestro A. Brian Davenport, performing Joaquín Rodrigo’s "Concierto de Aranjuez" in 2013. He was also the first guitarist to perform with the Tacoma Community College Chamber Orchestra directed by Dale Johnson, performing Rodrigo’s "Fantasía para un gentilhombre", and was invited back to perform Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s "Guitar Concerto in D major", this time with Dr. John Falskow. Leon’s active concert schedule includes performances at notable venues such as Benaroya Hall, Seattle’s historic Sorrento Hotel, Tacoma’s Antique Sandwich Company, Jazzbones, and the Bumbershoot music festival. Leon is also staff guitarist for the Federal Way Symphony.
Leon also enjoys performing in jazz, blues, and rock styles. His original rock bands have headlined tours across the West Coast and the Pacific Northwest and he has recorded and performed with Rock-and-Roll-Hall-of-Fame artists such as Sam Andrew of "Big Brother and the Holding Company" (Janis Joplin), Roger Fisher and Mike Derosier of "Heart", and blues legend Jerry Miller. He was also the top prizewinner in the Riff-O-Rama rock guitar competition sponsored by radio station KNDD 107.7 The End and Ted Brown Music Co. Leon extensively performed contemporary styles while in college and his playing and songwriting was heavily influenced by rock, metal, and progressive guitar icons including Alex Lifeson (Rush), Michael Schenker (Scorpions, UFO), Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Osbourne), Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Page (Led Zeppelin), Steve Howe (Yes), Vernon Reid (Living Colour), and Yngwie J. Malmsteen. He also studied and was inspired by jazz legends including George Benson, Larry Coryell, Al di Meola, Don Mock, Wes Montgomery, Al McKay (Earth, Wind, & Fire), and blues guitarists including B.B. King, Lonnie Mack, Otis Rush, and Buddy Guy.
As a studio recording session guitarist, Leon has been contracted to record at many prestigious northwest area studios such as London Bridge Studios, Mirror Sound Studio, and Pacific Recording Studios. His playing can be heard on independent films, TV commercials, and studio albums. Some projects include recording for the Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program under the direction of award-winning film composer Hummie Mann, an album with the Christian rock band Crosswind, composer Andrew T. Miller’s musical Pandora, and the popular Christmas album “A Holiday Offering”. Leon also composes, produces, and records original music for media placement.
Leon’s musical studies started at age four on classical piano. Inspired by the Beatles, Leon switched to the guitar at age twelve and continued on to attend the University of Puget Sound as a classical guitar performance major. He went on to study with many international masters of the instrument, including Douglas Rice Jr., David Russell, David Brandon, and William Kanengiser. Leon was among 24 guitarists selected from around the world to study in the prestigious international Christopher Parkening Master Class. Recognized by his peers, he was voted to be one of six guitarists to perform in the annual public recital, representing the Master Class with Mr. Parkening in attendance. This honor was bestowed upon Leon for three consecutive years and he remains a close friend of Mr. Parkening to this day.
Leon holds the position of Director of the Federal Way School of Music and has taught guitar for over 25 years, maintaining a successful private guitar studio in the Puget Sound area. As a strong supporter of music education, he is actively involved in local school music programs, music outreach programs for underprivileged children, and regularly leads masterclasses and music education clinics in the Seattle-Tacoma area. In 2014, he was awarded the “Friend of Music” award for the Valley Region of the Washington Music Educators Association. Currently, Leon performs regularly in classical concerts and is guitarist, lead songwriter, and producer in his original progressive rock project. In his spare time Leon enjoys body building, motorcycle riding, psychology, horror films, literature, and chess.
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