Student Profile:
Zac Lavender, Senior
North Springs Charter High School

Zac Lavender’s musical influences include his father, music teachers at North Springs Charter High School and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Emerson … the poet?

It was Emerson’s epic poem “Monadnoc,” said to be written in 1845 from the top of a New Hampshire mountain, which served as the inspiration for Zac in his award-winning music composition that he hopes helps pave the way for a successful career.

The composition “Monadnoc: Based on a Poem by Emerson” was the 2009 national Junior Division (students 18 and younger) winner of the Merle J. Isaac Composition Contest sponsored by the American String Teachers Association.

Compositions for the final round were rehearsed and performed by a school orchestra for a panel of five judges.

“I’ve always thought that was a cool poem,” said Zac, a senior, who admired the mood of sanctuary in Emerson’s piece. “I think music is a sanctuary of sorts, too.”

As part of the prize, the piece will be professionally published and be an important part of his resume when he applies for music school.

Zac was surprised by the award, even though he was confident it would do well when he entered it. But as time passed and he didn’t hear anything from the contest organization, he figured it didn’t make the cut.

“When I was told I won, I was like, ‘Really? That’s really cool.’ I didn’t expect to win.”

Zac is a music magnet student at North Springs, the principal cellist in the North Springs advanced orchestra and a tenor and president of the school’s advanced choir. He attended the Governor’s Honor program at Valdosta State University this past summer.

Zac was introduced to music through his father, Steve, who taught him how to play guitar, which later gave way to the cello, He has been playing cello for seven years.

“He raised me on Led Zeppelin, bluegrass and a lot of Americana music,” said Zac, adding that “Monadnoc” listeners might hear a bit of bluegrass in his composition.

Other influences have been teachers Adrienne Thompson, formerly at North Springs and now at North Atlanta High, and current North Springs orchestra teacher James Landreau. Thompson encouraged Zac to compose and Landreau has helped develop his skills.

What’s Next:

Zac hopes to study music at the New England Conservancy in Boston. “I want to get a four-year degree in composition,” he said. “Then probably work as a music teacher, while trying to earn a master’s and doctorate [degrees].” He definitely wants to be a professional composer. “I’m up for composing anything – bluegrass, guitar, orchestra. I really try to be as versatile as I can be.”