Like many of the most illustrious composers, cellist Armon Lalo has accomplished a prodigious amount early in life.
Born and raised in the Los Angeles area to Taiwanese immigrants, Lalo picked up the cello at the age of 3. He then honed his craft at competitions, going from busking at Southern California piers to performing at the American Music Awards with Diana Ross, and even playing for Michelle Obama at the White House.
Now, Lalo is tuning another impressive project — Monthly Melody, a service where Portland-area clients can book local classical musicians to play stringed instruments in their home, on a recurring basis or with as little as 48 hours’ notice. In essence, it’s DoorDash for Bach, Beethoven, or Vivaldi.
“I’m trying to bridge the gap between playing music on an iPhone, with having a theater-going experience to see a world-renowned artist,” he explained.
As a fourth-year student at Reed College, Lalo studies music and biology. Although he’s spending a lot less time doing research at OHSU’s neuroscience lab, that scientific approach helps him reach more people and make music more accessible.
Lalo and co. are also connecting generations, whether that’s performing for an older client who can’t leave the home easily, or a mother of two who simply wants that creative exposure for her kids.
“It reminds me of ancient Chinese or Greek societies, where there was a harpist in the library, or a violinist playing in the government halls,” he said. “That doesn’t exist anymore, but I know people want it in their homes.”
“At the end of the day, our task is so different, because we have to engage with people and be outgoing. There’s extra motivation to explain what we’re playing, or what the instrument is, or our own past, to get to know people on a personal level and keep the client.”