Free concerts highlight classical music

Free weekly musical performances provided to students and faculty will resume Thursday at 12:45 p.m. in Music 3400.

 

This semester there will be a total of 10 concerts, with eight professional performances and two student showcases.

 

Among the performers are the Los Angeles Cello Quartet, violinist Ji Young An, and duo Wahid.

 

The series, which is funded through the student government, is organized by adjunct music instructor James Bergman.

 

“Usually, the duty of setting up the concerts gets passed to the person who hasn’t been doing it,” he said. “You just put in your time and do the extra work.”

 

The concerts are set up to tie in with the music appreciation classes taught at Pierce, according to Bergman.

 

“Most students don’t know classical music. They think we’re going to be sitting around and listening to a bunch of CDs [in class],” he said. “It’s not quite like that.”

 

Through the concerts, students and faculty alike “get a heavy duty exposure to classical music,” Bergman said.

 

Bergman is able to get professional musicians to perform on campus through his connections as a “practicing musician.”

 

“All of my friends are professional musicians or [teachers] at UCLA and USC, so I know people,” he said. “I hear my friend is doing a recital, and I say, ‘Hey, wouldn’t you love to do that at Pierce College?’”

 

With the exception of Pierce talents, the performers are given a stipend from the funding the Associated Students Organization (ASO) gives Bergman.

 

“It’s definitely not a professional rate,” he said.

 

Because ASO funding is dependent on enrollment, the concert series has had to be cut down based on the dwindling amount of money given each semester.

 

“Because California colleges are messed up, they keep cutting enrollment,” Bergman said. “[This] means that the budget for everything gets smaller and smaller.”

 

Of the performers that do the weekly concerts, favorites of the audience are the UCLA and USC students, according to Bergman.

 

“[My students] say, ‘They’re as old as I am. How can I play so well?’” he said. “Sometimes they’re inspired, but sometimes they get depressed and think, ‘What am I doing with my life? They can play so well, and I suck at everything.”

 

The concerts were originally done in the Performing Arts Building, but ongoing renovations have forced the Music Department to move them to the choral room.

 

“Actually, it’s kind of neat because it’s always better to have a [small but] full room than a big room that’s not filled,” he said. “But I’m looking forward to the new building, because acoustics will be better and it will look more like a concert.”

 

What sets the Thursday afternoon concerts apart from others are their interactive aspects.

 

In addition to performing for the audience, the musicians talk about their music, according to Bergman.

 

This is what struck one of last semester’s invited performers, violinist Ji Young An, who says that she’s never had the kind of concert that requires her to communicate with the students.

 

“It’s better for the students. I think they like it a lot because they [end up] feeling like our friends,” An said. “It’s also good training for me.”

 

Classical pianist Danny Holt, who has performed in the Thursday concert series twice before, also appreciates the discussion that goes with the performances.

 

“A lot of music I play is unfamiliar, the kind of music people wouldn’t hear elsewhere,” Holt said. “[The discussion] is really helpful to those who aren’t familiar with the music.”

 

He also says that the interactive portion of each performance encourages the audience to indulge any curiosity they might have about the music.

 

“As a performer, I feed off that,” he said.

 

Pierce students are welcome to each of the Thursday concerts, and should contact the Music Department for details.

 

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