For classical music, the past few weeks have been a time to reflect. And Salastina is looking back with purpose. The Los Angeles chamber group launched its new podcast, Sounds Interesting, this week, and the first episode uses a past performance to find connections with the current moment.
That debut episode focuses on American Mirror, a 2016 string quartet by composer Derrick Spiva Jr., written in reaction to that year’s presidential election and premiered by Salastina. Spiva’s quartet draws on diverse musical influences — African and Eastern European melodies, American folk harmonies, rhythms from North Indian classical music, and more — to make a larger point about collaboration and harmony.
Looking back on the piece, Spiva emphasizes that 2016 as a backdrop is not unrelated to 2020: “Today, America continues to be at a crossroads with racial discrimination, as it was in 2016 and before. American Mirror is still a sonic representation of what a community could be, the way a community could interact with itself, celebrating and valuing the uniqueness of its differences while cultivating its shared ideals.”
You can hear a full performance of the work, plus Spiva in conversation with Salastina cofounders Kevin Kumar and Maia Jasper White, along with Salastina collaborator and KUSC host Brian Lauritzen, on the hour-long podcast.
And future episodes are in the works. Podcasting is just one of several projects Salastina has been pursuing amid the constraints of the coronavirus shutdown. New and longtime audience members alike have been tuning in to the group’s Virtual Happy Hours on Zoom, every Tuesday at 6 p.m. PDT. And this weekend is a first: a live lawn concert in Pasadena, socially distanced and with a real piano! To RSVP for that June 28 performance or an upcoming Happy Hour, visit Salastina’s website.