Many individuals, accustomed to modern radio musicians like Nicki Minaj and styles like dubstep, are unfamiliar with the beauty of classical music. However, a few high school students strive to spread the aesthetic qualities of classical music throughout the city of Los Angeles.
The Social Event Music Organization (SEMO) is a nonprofit organization consisting of high school students interested in sharing their passion for music. SEMO has performed in many at homeless shelters, soup kitchens, graduations, weddings, the Armenian Community Center, and at prestigious events such as the Milken Scholars Dinner.
Created in 2008 by founders Angela Oh and Jane Tak, this group has grown from a quartet into a 20-person group. Currently there are violinists, cellists, flutists, and a pianist. Some charities that SEMO is affiliated with are World Vision, for which the group has raised money to purchase a pig for poor families in Africa, and the Sisters of the Blessed Korean Martyr For the Branch, for whom the group has fundraised to support the nurture of orphans in Peru. Additionally, the group has worked with the Peace Corps mission to the Dominican Republic.
Grace Tak, the director of SEMO, is pleased with the growth of the group. In an interview with JSR, she stated, “I am so amazed to see such young children be so passionate about the classical arts. Many [people], even adults, are unfamiliar [with] prestigious composers such as Beethoven, Haydn, and many more.”
She continued, “One thing that SEMO does differently is that we do not only just play classical music. We mix a variety of songs and will even be performing a part of the famous song ‘Do You Want To Build A Snowman?’ from the movie ‘Frozen.’”
“Every week I get to spend time with the kids and every week we have a blast,” Tak concluded.
Alex Kang, a cellist in SEMO, told JSR, “When I first performed at the homeless shelter, I was first apathetic. I considered this performance just as a mundane, normal performance that had no meaning. However, after we finished every song, many of the hungry people would stop eating and applaud us for our music. After the performance, there was one individual that came up to every single member of SEMO and thanked them.”
“Experiencing this first-hand,” Yang said, “made me realize that some people just do not have the luxury to listen to classical music… [or] music at all. Performing for these people truly enlightened me with an experience that I would never get anywhere else.”
SEMO will be performing soon at the Armenian Community Center, the St. Vincent Homeless Shelter, and the LA Workers Building. More information about how to join SEMO or attend performances can be found at socialeventmusicorganization.org.