Stephen Letnes‘ music journey began at the age of four, learning the violin by the Suzuki Method, hearing the notes and playing them. This method worked especially well for Stephen because he was born legally blind. At five, Stephen’s violin was stolen at knife point on the way into his elementary school. The violin was replaced, but after playing at a concert, the family came out to find their new car was stolen. A few months later, Stephen came to his mother and told her that he had forgotten about a concert. She said, “That’s okay, Stephen. We can’t afford it anyway.” At seven, Stephen switched to piano. Not only could he continue using the Suzuki Method, but the piano was immobile.
Nurturing a passion for piano music, having hyper-sensitive hearing of tone and harmony, coupled with a cavernous memory, Stephen learned and played contemporary and classical pieces, from David Lanz to Serge Rachmaninoff.
Eventually, Stephen began composing. Tapping into the musical disciplines he had gathered through lessons and performances, following in the footsteps of the masters, compositions poured forth, culminating in three CDs: “A Dim Glow Through A Stained-Glass Window”, an album dedicated to six people who greatly impacted his life, “Incorporio”, music signifying what love is, that it goes where it wishes; and his latest CD, “Labreya”, a coming to life, strife-to-life celebration!
Throughout his life, alongside the piano, Stephen has always been fascinated with music for media and has over 100 credits for film and television ranging from award-winning short films and international documentaries, to feature films like “Santa’s Boot Camp” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2016) directed by Ken Feinberg, “Nobody’s Son” (2017) directed by Brian Austin and “The Run Saga: Breathe” (2017) directed by Frederick Nah IV.
Stephen’s score for “Santa’s Boot Camp” was nominated for “Best Score” at the 2016 Love International Film Festival in Los ANgeles and the short film that he scored,”Lady Lillian”, directed by Amber Danger Johnson, won “Best of Fest” at the 2017 Z-Fest Film Festival in Minnesota. Stephen has been interviewed for articles in magazines such as VARIETY and ABILITY as well as podcasts like “Blind Abilities” and “Indie Film NYC”.
Alongside his contracted film projects for 2017 and 2018, Stephen has founded the organization, Able Artist; it’s purpose is to support artists with disabilities on fixed incomes with educational, vocational training and real-world experience in a professional recording studio as well as provide half-off scholarships on participating vendors’ products and services. Visit www.ableartist.org for more information.