By Rob LeDonne
Alvin Liang has been interested in music his entire life. A junior at Canyon Crest Academy who grew up in the North County, Liang first learned to play piano about 11 years ago: “When I reached high school, I took a music composition class and realized all you could do with the technology (concerning putting together music).”
Alvin was so smitten by composition and music production that he and his friend Ozan Berlinguette decided to start up the CCA Composition Club earlier this year devoted to those disciplines.
“We try to create an environment that makes people easily create compositions and have access to really great software whenever they want,” Alvin said.
Alvin credits Canyon Crest Academy with pioneering the idea of classes devoted to composition and wanted to build on that.
“A lot of people know Canyon Crest as a unique and creative school,” Alvin said. “However, many don’t know that we’re the first school in the United States to have a Digital Composition class, a Recording Arts class, and a Digital and Audio Production and Performance class. The latter of which was new this year.”
The club, which meets one day a week and runs the gamut of students between freshmen and seniors, focuses on a variety of genres; members are free to choose their own style of music to work on. Most work on electronic or EDM (tracks that could be played in a club), but others, such as Josh Masters, focus on jazz. Alvin likes to compose scores that could be used for video games or film, a hobby that is linked to his interest in classical music: “I found a person on YouTube who was creating his own video game and needed a score. I submitted and he chose me, so my interest has grown from there.”
Even though the club is in its first year, it’s already launched a variety of successful projects, including a music festival called CCAchella (a play on Canyon Crest and Coachella, the well-known music festival held in Indio) which, according to Alvin, “turned out to be a big success. Over 300 people came, and everyone had a lot of fun.”
In addition, the club recently produced a full CD, “The First Byte,” on sale for students that features a variety of tracks members have been working on throughout the year. Said Alvin, “We’ve been selling it in the cafeteria and from what I hear, it seems like everyone is enjoying it. Some people have commented on specific tracks they think are good, which is awesome.”
The club is advised by teacher Vikas Srivastava, an alumnus of Harvard and UCSD, who naturally happens to teach the music classes at the school as well. “He’s very knowledgeable, and several of us owe our basic knowledge to him,” said Alvin. “He’s very flexible with our projects and has a teaching style based on the belief of trying things out and experimenting. If we ever need advice, he’s always there to help us.”
Alvin, who said he’s planning on pursuing music after he graduates, is looking forward to his second and final year heading the club. “After I leave, I would definitely want this club to keep going. In this modern era, audio technology is becoming more and more accessible, and we at Canyon Crest have an advantage over other people with what we have access to.”
To listen to some of the club’s music, visit youtube.com/user/ccacompositionclub