Cultures meet through sound

Liliana Castañeda
Arts Editor

Grammy award nominated musicians Genevieve Feiwen Lee and Sara Parkins, along with promising cellist Maggie Parkins, performed as the Mojave Trio Sunday at the Pomona College music hall.

The program featured two contemporary artists and Beethoven, which added a high amount of contrast in genre. The first song was composed in 2009 by a Chinese born composer named Gao Ping, who then studied in the U.S.

“The clash between West and East can really be heard in a combination of sounds that he created,” Lee said.

Ping’s song, Su Xie Si Ti (four sketches) consisted of four segments: Xiao (boisterous), Cuo Diao (split melody), Dui Wei (counterpoint), and Shuo (shining).

Dui Wei was inspired by a funeral procession in a small village in China that Ping attended while visiting, according to the program.

The Suona, a traditional Chinese instrument which is commonly used in funerals, transformed the music from somber notes to happier notes. In China, funerals are called the “white happiness.”

“The music was a bit diversive because, I guess funeral music you usually think of very somber and slow… this was more intense, ” said Janice Lee, a junior computer science and math major at Pomona College.

The melody began with an off key piano made apparent through choppy sounds that lacked cohesion.

This turned soft piano chords into the sound of a confused child asking for approval, going high in pitch then low and high once again.

The tones carried a heavy mood of uncertainty.

The violin soon started and sounded agonized, crying to the utmost of its ability going high in pitch and then into a trill, sounding like the strings were uncontrollably sobbing.

The cello, in contrast, had deep undertones that sounded as though it were continually grunting over and over again in a consistent pattern of pitch and time.

“The main difference is if I listened to the first two composers I’d be more interested in the composer and how the music just happened, and just being more analytical about it,” said Gabe Alzate, a junior computer science and math major at Pomona College.

The sounds would often alternate from what sounded to be a complacent sound of happiness to what could have been the backtrack of a horror movie during the chilling scene a killer chasing and ultimately catching their victim.

The violin had a deep screeching sound that mimicked the sound of a freight train halting to a sudden stop.

The piano continued its hysteria with loud low pitch notes, making it sound as though the pianist was headbanging straight onto the piano keys.

The chaos of unmatched, clashing chords would soon settle down with the cello sounding as though it were lamenting itself, and the high pitched soft notes of the piano evoking both mischief and doubt in the process.

“I thought the group was extraordinary. There is an extraordinary energy that they create, amongst themselves they are in the flow,” said Richard Myer, local percussion artist.

The program featured another contemporary artist named Kaija Saarihao and her piece titled “Light and Matter,” which featured a very manufactured and electronic sound, even though traditional instruments like the piano, cello and violin created the music.

The ensemble finished the concert off with “Trio in G Major, Op.1, No.2,” a classical upbeat composition from Beethoven to commemorate the late composer.

Liliana Castañeda can be reached at

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Liliana Castañeda, a senior communications major, is the Fall 2022 news editor of the Campus Times. She has previously served as editorial director, arts editor, copy editor and a staff writer.

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