Classical concert with a modern twist

Songs from Sam Smith, Miley Cyrus and NSYNC were performed by students in the Performing Arts Building Mainstage on Thursday, Oct. 26.

The ASO occasionally hosts free afternoon concerts on Thursdays, and they are open to the public.

Instructor of music Garineh Avakian-Akkus said the student concert was for any Pierce student and is not limited to students in a particular class.

“I think they were all wonderful. The more experience and the more performance that they get, the better they become,” Avakian-Akkus said. “We try to do at least two to three recitals a semester to give them more performance opportunity.”

Avakian-Akkus said she tries to give students the opportunity to perform with or without an audition.

“It’s based on their talent, and in this one in particular, they actually audition to get into the recital,” Avakian-Akkus said.

Bass guitarist Isaac Mejia ,19, performed “Summertime” with Cleo Maggiore, Adrian Camp and Lindley Dao.

“I’ve been playing since I was 9. I do these recitals for myself. I was hoping more people would enjoy it,” Mejia said. “I played and I had fun.”

This is Mejia’s second time performing in a student recital at Pierce. He performed on the drums in the last recital.  

Pianist Sophia Cho has been performing since 7, and this was her second semester performing in the Pierce student concerts.

“There’s a different energy that we all have when we come here to do these performances. We’re all very supportive and it’s really great,” Cho said. “We’re just really excited to be performing with other people, and we’ve been working really hard, so we just want to show that.”

Cho said the student concert is a mix of different genres, and she thinks everyone can enjoy it regardless of their prefered music genre.

“What’s so great is that, you might not come in thinking that you’ll like anything or you’ll like all of them, but there will always be one thing that you might take with you,” Cho said.

Cho said students who to attend the recital don’t necessarily have to like all the type of genres, but they can enjoy some of the performances.

“I think that it’s really great if you just come to just enjoy,” Cho said. “You might not like all of them, you don’t have to, not everyone has to like all of them, but there might be that one that really sticks to you, and that’s the important one.”

Sophia Cho’s mother Jaennette Cho was in the audience supporting her daughter, and she said she enjoyed the music the students performed.

“I really like the recital. I liked the ensembles, the drums, the piano, and cello or the clarinet. That arrangement, it was very nice,” Jaennette Cho said. “The students, the vocalist, I think they’re all pretty serious about the music they were playing, and I think they were doing great.”

Benz Marston was performing “Libertango” on the cello with Sophia Cho and Rozz Mantor.

“As a group, we achieved what I think we wanted to achieve,” Marston said. “The audience connected with us. It was less about us, individually on stage, and more about the audience.”

Marston enjoys performing classical pieces, but he thought the concert was very pop driven.

“I think doing a piece like “Libertango” was definitely out of my comfort zone, which I have been wanting to do for a long time,” Marston said. “Finally having that platform to do it here at Pierce was a pretty cool and great experience. I think classical music is not so well appreciated.”

Marston said he began performing at Pierce recitals last semester and has been playing the cello for a few years.

“The Applied Music Program was a huge opportunity for me. The fact that they’re giving me a cello teacher an hour a week is really powerful, and it really motivates me,” Marston said.

Avakian-Akkus said most of the students who performed are from the Pierce workshop in MUS 250.

“There’s students in the class that take their instrument seriously, and they take private lessons outside of here, but there’s also students who haven’t taken a lesson in their life,” Avakian-Akkus said. “The program is evolving, it’s changing and it’s getting bigger as each semester goes by, so we’re excited. I’m proud of all the students who performed tonight.”

The next concert is on Nov. 2 and will feature Granada Hills Charter High School Choir. The Applied Music Program Recital is on Nov. 30 in MUS 3400.