Seeking to unify through song

Seeking to unify through song

An attentive audience in the Performing Arts Building was met with an energetic Latin guitar and a hollow, box-shaped percussion instrument called a Cajon on Feb. 27.

Omar Torrez brought his original compositions about his Latin American culture and political viewpoints to life for the third installment of ASO Afternoon Concerts.

The Seattle native occasionally covers songs, but he prefers to create and get inspiration from the genres American rock and roll, blues, Afro-Cuban, Latin American and Spanish music. 

“I’m going to try to tear down and break barriers right before your eyes,” Torrez said. “It might be very exciting for you.”

His first song “Marina” is a self proclaimed Afro-Cuban Irish drinking song. The up-tempo original ranged from loud moments to whispers. 

He also invited Tom Wakefield to play the Cajon despite them not having played together in 10 years.

Torrez then included the audience during the song.

“Pierce College, I know it’s very early, but now is not the time to sleep,” Torrez said. “I need your help. We have to work together.”

Up next was a performance of “Burn it Down,” a postmodern cha-cha-cha, he explained.

“Sometimes it’s not enough to change the systems, instead you have to destroy them,” Torrez said.

Filled with imagery of dissatisfaction, “Burn it Down,” was followed by “It’s Over.” 

Unlike the other songs, “It’s Over” had a quiet and slower tempo, focusing on the emotional themes of endings and uncertainty.

Torrez followed with a cover of a song he heard during his childhood called “La Llorona.” It’s a traditional Mexican song, not to be mistaken for the horror folktale of the same name.

It’s sung in a Bolero, or slow-tempo fashion.

Before his next song “Reach Down,” Torrez mentioned he drew inspiration for it from the current political climate.

“[In] the last two or three years, there has been a lot of divisiveness  and dialogue, socially and politically, certainly in this country,” Torrez said. “I had an idea to write songs that are not about divisiveness or pointing fingers, but the things we share and how we can help each other. I think it’s important to hold onto that. You can be cynical on one hand in and yet not be a jerk.”

“Reach Down” was followed by Torrez’s unreleased song “Lean on Someone,” a fast-paced song with an abrupt ending. 

After answering student questions, Torrez concluded with his most recent record, “A Night of Serious Drinking.” 

Torrez closed out the concert with hopes that his music inspires students to follow their dreams.

“Even if [your dreams] don’t seem like they’re working out at any given time, just keep pushing through,” Torrez said. “They have a funny way of falling into place with energy and enthusiasm and love.”

The next ASO Afternoon Concert is called “World Music – ‘5th Element’” and is scheduled for March 5 at the Performing Arts Building.