Kristian Klaus Leukert
Kristian Leukert, singer and trumpet performer, is the music teacher at Monterey Bay Academy in California, a position he has held since 2010. Coming from a home where music was a central part of life from his earliest years, he excelled in both performance areas during his undergraduate and graduate study.
Kristian was born in Hutchinson, Minnesota, the youngest of three children born to Klaus Detlef and Sara Edrine Hanson Leukert. Although at the time of his birth, his father was the choir director at Maplewood Academy, he would spend his childhood in Georgia and Arizona, where his father directed the choral programs at Georgia-Cumberland and Thunderbird Adventist academies, respectively.
Kristian started taking piano lessons at age six but found while in third grade that he enjoyed playing trumpet more. He made remarkable progress on the instrument and by fifth grade was playing in the TAA band and by seventh grade in the academy brass choir, at the invitation of its band director Dan Kravig.
He later talked about the important role music played in his childhood and teenage years:
I always wanted to be a music teacher like my dad. I am the youngest of three kids and 6 years from the nearest sibling. When I was born, my mom was already gearing up to go back to work as a nurse. Consequently, I spent most of my formative years going to work with my dad. I would play on the floor beside him during choir rehearsals, play under the piano during voice lessons, etc.
The music department was my second home. During my late childhood and teenage years while we were living in Arizona, my dad and Dan Kravig, who directed the instrumental program at Thunderbird Academy, were great role models for me. My best memories from those years at TAA are about music and the music department. Some kids wanted to be firefighters. Some wanted to be astronauts. I wanted to be a music teacher.
As a student at TAA, he continued to play trumpet in its ensembles and also played in the Phoenix Symphony Guild Youth Orchestra for two years. As his voice matured, he also became interested in pursuing what had been a major part of his life from his earliest years:
I grew up singing all the time, singing songs I knew around the house, and making up new ones. I was in elementary choirs all nine years (K-8), singing solos in choir, church, talent shows, etc, and always singing with my family. My father has a tremendous tenor voice and my mother has a wonderful soprano voice. All three of us kids grew up singing often for worships and providing special music. In my sophomore year in high school, I joined the select singing group at TAA even though it meant dropping brass ensemble. I simply wanted to grow more in singing.
Following graduation from TAA in 1995, Kristian enrolled at La Sierra University as a music education major. At this time he started his first serious formal study on trumpet, taking lessons under Richard Hofman, a noted versatile freelance performer in the Los Angeles area and teacher at California State University, Northridge. He excelled in this study and served as principal trumpet in the LSU Wind Ensemble, Sinfonia, Jazz Ensemble, and Brass Quintet. He subsequently added trumpet performance as an additional emphasis to his degree and was featured as a soloist several times with the Sinfonia and Wind Ensemble.
Kristian also decided that he needed to unofficially pursue voice study. Throughout his time at LSU, he studied voice, first with William Chunestudy at LSU for a year and then with Bruce McClurg, a teacher in the community, for four more years. He gave three joint recitals with friends and voice majors and a full recital on his own, personally underwriting the expense.
After participating in the honors program and graduating summa cum laude from LSU in 2000 with a B.Mus. in both music education and trumpet performance, Kristian was offered full scholarships to several graduate schools for voice study. He chose the University of California, Irvine, where he studied voice with Patrick Goeser for a year and with Robin Buck in his final year and also studied conducting with Stephen Tucker. In 2002, He completed an MFA at UCI, with voice as his performance area. He was selected as one of ten Teachers of Excellence nationwide by the Alumni Awards Foundation.
Kristian started his teaching career at Newbury Park Academy in 2003, where he taught music and geography for six years. He is married to Aimee Sirintawn, also an LSU honors program participant, who graduated from the university with bachelor's degrees in music and elementary education in 2002 and a master's degree in administration and leadership in 2008.
Aimee taught fifth grade at Crescenta Valley Adventist School beginning in 2002 and then became principal four years later. Both were teaching at NPA when they accepted positions at MBA in 2010, he in music and she in mathematics. They have two children, Lianna and Kayleigh.
Sources: Information provided by Kristian Leukert, May 2011; Other online sources.