The School of Music hosted a concert celebrating Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities in recognition of the targeted Atlanta spa shootings that took place last year on March 15.
The idea for the concert, “Together: A celebration of the Asian and Pacific Islander Communities”, was brought about by the School of Music’s committee for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The committee strives to improve the relative representation of different ethnic, racial and gender groups throughout USC by establishing open communication and inclusion of these often-overlooked groups.
The “Together'' concert was designed to spotlight some of the contributions from the API community in the wake of tragic events that took place last year in March, Danny Jenkins, an associate professor of music theory and member of the School of Music’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee said.
After targeted shootings on three Asian-ran massage parlors in Atlanta that resulted in the deaths of six Asian women, rallies ensued across the nation in response. Protesters made signs and marched against targeted attacks against Asian-American groups, garnering support for the #StopAsianHate movement.
In opposition to the attacks, several supporters and student members of the API communities at the School of Music showcased a variety of works by Asian and Pacific Islander composers.
Musicians took to the stage, the recital hall rafters and even amongst the crowd to perform a variety of musical pieces. The solace crowd was met with both soft and intense vibrations from the woodwinds along with harmonic and sometimes harsh taps of piano keys.
Jenkins said it's important for concerts like these to show audiences classical works from non-western European composers.
“One of the things this event does is it reminds us how many wonderful composers there are from other parts of the world,” Jenkins said.
He said performers were encouraged to pick their own pieces to perform, which allowed for the event to become a student-curated program. Performers like third-year music student Anna Thamasett were given one guideline, in which they had to select compositions created by the musicians from the API community.
“The goal of the performance is to highlight both Asian American and Pacific Islander composers, as well as API performers within the School of Music here at USC,” Thamasett said before her performance.
Thamasett chose to perform a piece titled, "The Source," by Toshi Ichiyanagi — one of Japan’s most prolific and influential post-war composers.
Thamasett discussed the piece’s importance in establishing the popularity of the marimba instrument in Japanese culture before discussing the pride she felt for participating in such an important event.
“It feels very meaningful, like I'm part of something bigger than just myself,” Thamasett said. “It's interesting for me to have a goal with my performance and to feel like I am accomplishing something with my music.”
The concert featured performances from both USC students and faculty, as well as performers outside of the university. One of these performers, Anthony Farmer, a guitarist and friend of a School of Music graduate, said it felt nice to perform amongst the variety of talent while honoring an oppressed culture.
The concert, along with its companion piece, “Peake Colloquium with David Kim” — which took place on Friday, March 18 — are all a part of a collection of API-centered events the committee put on following a roundtable last year featuring members of these communities. The committee recognized the need for more School of Music events featuring musical compositions from members of the API community.
“With certain things it's hard to move on from — I think it's better to just move forward with them,” Farmer said.
He said this music — like those found in his Hawaiian quartet performance — often fails to receive enough attention.
Student committee member Greer Arcomona, along with her fellow member Lucy Ku, dedicated hours of hard work in the formation of this event. Following the concert, Arcamona said how happy she was with the turnout and expressed gratitude towards her fellow committee members Kunio Hara and Danny Jenkins in bringing this event to life.
Jenkins said those who could not attend are welcome to view the event on the School of Music YouTube channel.