Music from the space between the notes

Music from the space between the notes

A nickel-finish guitar with a metal lattice accompanied by geometric shapes along its body rested against a pair of long black slacks and a midnight blue-grey button-up. A slender musician rapidly plucked its metal strings while tunes of the Great Depression rang out into the theater. 

Each week Pierce College hosts an Associated Student Organization (ASO) Concert on Thursday afternoons to give music program students a preview of their potential careers. Guests of various musical backgrounds are invited to perform and answer questions from attendees afterward. 

This week’s guest was Grammy Award-winner John Schneider, a guitarist and composer who has also worked his way into an array of different fields such as radio, writing and television. He introduced a setlist compiled of abstract music from composers Harry Partch and Lou Harrison. 

John Schneider performs a microtonal solo guitar concert in the Performing Arts Building at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif., on March 7, 2024. Photo by Melanie Jurado.

ASO Concert Director Kevin Good is involved with the selection process of performers, which begins with housekeeping information such as determining the availability of the Performing Arts Building (PAB). When it comes to choosing guests, the director can be more creative. 

Good aims to establish a well-rounded assortment of talent for the students. 

“I always try and curate it for people that are curious to learn more about music, and have it tie into each other,” Good said. “It’s a little sneaky in how it’s done.”

Schneider’s solo act began with the “Three Jahlas,” a piece with gamelan influences by Lou Harrison, an American music pioneer. 

His show also featured songs written from the Great Depression era, including “Barstow: Eight Hitchhiker’s Interpretations” by Harry Partch and “Serenades” by Harrison. Due to the different nature of the pieces, Schneider switched between three guitars in total, a Classical, Adapted I and National Resophonic guitar. 

Schneider’s first-ever concert as a performer was on campus as a Pierce professor and provided an understanding of why hosting these events is important. 

 “It was in the music department. I was so nervous, it was incredible. That got me started, I thought ‘What am I going to do to get rid of these nerves?’ and I found a way to do it,” Schneider said. “That’s what it does for the students here, it shows them possible paths, and to be in the room and see it happen, and maybe talk to them after is priceless.”

Recent Fall 2023 Pierce graduate Hasti Almasi has supported the ASO concert series since her start on campus. The Music Club President feels the concerts give students a chance to discover new genres. 

“That’s why I come every time, it’s a good opportunity to explore more artists and different concepts of music that we have never heard of,” Almasi said. 

Almasi also stressed the importance of being exposed to a wide range of music and the opportunity it gives students to connect. 

“Whether you’re into studying music or not, it’s good to be able to see this art form in multiple different ways,” Almasi said. “This is an art form that brings people together. By doing this and having that available, it’s just an important thing to connect on. It’s for a better sense of community.”

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