New Music Symposium showcases student work


Jaik Hakkarinen performs his original music. Photo credit: Kati Morris

On Thursday, the School of the Arts opened with the first night of the 16th annual New Music Symposium, a two-day event that highlights a broad range of original music performed by Chico State students. 

“Dedicated to encouraging young musicians and musical ingenuity, the Symposium showcases student composers as they perform original solo and ensemble works,” according to the show’s program. “The Symposium also provides opportunities for students to meet and interact with established guest artists and composers.” 

The event took place over two nights, with Thursday night dedicated entirely to student composers. Guests gathered in Chico State’s Rowland-Taylor Recital Hall to show support for students performing their own original pieces. 

There was a diverse range of performances, from piano ballads to live electronic music. 

Among the traditional performances, Angelo Ramirez performed a captivating electronic piece he describes as his “take on chamber music” with sounds sampled from Tchaikovsky’s “Piano Trio.” 

The crowd became enthusiastic when Gabriel Samaro took the floor to perform an original spoken word piece titled “Find my Headstone.” Accompanied by Jaik Hakkarinen on piano and Kailo Castilla on guitar, Samaro delivered a heartfelt story he described as being about forgiveness. 

“Last year, I was hurt very deeply by some very close people,” Samaro said. “This spoken word is my thoughts and feelings on my journey to forgive them and move on.” 

To close the show, Hakkarinen was joined by Jacob McDonald on piano, Caden Wentworth on bass, and Rocky Winslow on trumpet to perform a lively variation of blues music with jazz elements, inspired by the sounds of Ornette Wilson and Thelonious Monk. 

“While a blues will typically purge the sadness or negativity in one’s self, the goal of this blues is to purge one’s frustrations,” Hakkarinen said. 

Friday night’s event took place in the Zingg Recital Hall, where Splinter Reeds joined the Symposium as this year’s guest artist to play pieces they commissioned. 

The reed quintet took the stage to perform an experimental set, using fairly unorthodox techniques, including taking the reeds from their instruments and submerging them in water.

At one point during their set, Reeds called on the audience to participate by playing an audio track on their phones through SoundCloud. 

The New Music Symposium was created in 2004 in honor of the late Alfred Loeffler, a music professor who also served as department chair, symphony conductor and Chamber Music Workshop director. 

Kati Morris can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @daysofkati.

Online tags: symposium, music, arts, Kati Morris

Photo captions:

1: Inside the Rowland-Taylor Recital Hall 

2: Jaik Hakkarinen performs his original music