Features and Reviews
(Continuing our series on Rose Leaf Club members, John Reed-Torres, ragtime pianist, composer and organist at the Old Town Music Hall—among many other talents, offered the following musical autobiography)
John Reed-Torres was born and raised in Los Angeles, Calif. He first heard ragtime music during school recess in fifth grade. An ice cream wagon came creeping along, playing the A theme of Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer." Right then and there, the ragtime bug "bit" him, and simultaneously released multiple inner infatuations that he now maintains for things of antiquity, ranging from architecture to automobiles.
Shortly after that, John began to teach himself piano throughout his middle school and early high school days. He developed a short repertoire and began to play for friends and at church, while simultaneously playing trombone in the high school marching band. He also marched and played trombone in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade from 2008-2012.
John worked up performances of Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" and "Sugar Cane Rag" as well as some classical pieces, winning first-place awards two years in a row in his school's talent show. He also played the soundtrack for a short independent silent film that earned third place at a festival, and won a gold medal at the NAACP/ActSo competition in Los Angeles, which earned him a free trip to perform in New York city. That same year (2009), John began music studies at Pasadena City College, where he began formal piano lessons and continued to expand his repertoire in ragtime and classical music. He has performed at various venues around Los Angeles and Pasadena, including the Rose Leaf Club, Old Town Music Hall and Orange County Ragtime Society, as well as the 25th annual West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento in 2011, the Blind Boone Festival in 2012-2013, and the Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival in 2013.
John is a composer as well; he has written three rags (at the time this bio was written); "Spring Street Rag" (2011), "La Cosa" (2011) and "The Belle of Los Angeles" (2012). He's composed other classical shorts as well. He aspires to become a professional musician, composer, conductor and mechanical engineer/architect. Being of a diverse ethnic heritage, John aims to acknowledge the links that connect us all, especially those through music. For ragtime is loved across the globe, and for good reason. It's the musical recipe of delight, which Scott Joplin termed "that weird and intoxicating effect."
John's influences are Scott Joplin, J.S. Bach, Chopin and James Scott. He wishes to expand as many aspects of history, particularly the history of ragtime, into his generation, so that everyone will recognize ragtime as a monumental form in the development of culture and music. John believes music is "a universal language that spans the globe," wherein "different genres are like different dialects of one language." He says that ragtime is "the dialect that he understands and is able to convey best."