Students crammed into an auditorium atop a hill at the Pierce College campus to get their weekly dose of contemporary classical music on Thursday, April 17.
The week’s free show featured a four-piece set by The Varied Trio, a group of classical musicians with an atypical sonic palette of violin, piano and percussion.
Before the trio played composer Vicki Ray’s “Jugg(ular)ing” to old, crackly footage of juggling acts, pianist Aron Kallay put the group’s eccentric style in perspective.
“Have you covered the Baroque era yet? How many composers did you talk about? Two, three?” Kallay asked the audience. “Right? That was 400 years ago … Well new music, the stuff we’re playing right now, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of composers are vying for your ears.”
Adjunct instructor of music, James Bergman, who organizes the concerts, invited students to expand their iTunes libraries.
“There will be kids that totally grooved out on this,” Bergman said. “This is first-rate stuff that comes to campus, and it’s free.”
Kallay, who teaches electroacoustic media and piano at the University of Southern California, explained that today’s classical musicians are pioneers of the contemporary soundscape.
“We just get so many different variations of sound, with all the percussion and all the varied techniques I do inside the piano,” Kallay said. “Composers really use the whole instrument.”
Percussionist Yuri Inoo spent the set negotiating her musical playground, rearranging a stage swallowed in instruments between movements.
The opening piece, “Vanishing Act” by composer Takuma Itoh, was written for the trio. Itoh’s website says the nine-minute piece calls for 20 types of percussion instruments including a vibraslap, bass drum, bongos and three small cymbals tuned to different notes.
D’Andre Abrego, 19, said the performance left a lasting impression.
“It was pretty good. Pretty psychedelic,” Abrego said. “I’m going to try and get some of their music.”
There are five remaining concerts of the semester, one of which will feature Pierce students. They are open to the public and will be in room 3400 of the Music Building Thursdays at 12:45 p.m.