Music, creativity drive passion

Composer and pianist creates music for VR


Ninoangelo Lastimosa is a new student in the music composition classes. After completing the program and transferring to a four-year college in 2019, he hopes to have some of his original compositions recorded by the music department.

By Gabriel Quiroz, Advocate Staff

Everyone loves music — listening to, playing and singing it. Although many enjoy being a part of it, few can turn it into something that supports them or even keeps it as a significant part of their life.

However, there are those creative, determined and practiced few who can.

Ninoangelo Lastimosa is a composer of his own original music for virtual reality video games, a pianist and baritone singer in Jazzology.

Lastimosa is in his fourth year studying in the music department and third semester with Jazzology at Contra Costa College.

Jazzology is one of the more advanced music groups in terms of vocal performance on campus.

He began his musical journey long before setting foot on the CCC campus as he grew up with a family involved in music and film.

Lastimosa began learning piano at the age of 12. His older sister would help him with skills and theory.

He also has two older brothers who are both videographers and one who is also an actor.

“I wanted to be involved in performance like the rest of my family. It was kind of a tradition to be in performing arts,” Lastimosa said.

The video games he played when growing up also influenced Lastimosa’s decision, such as the “Final Fantasy” series, because he always appreciated the craft in their orchestration.

Laurena Alm, a Jazzology alumnus lead soprano, met Lastimosa at Pinole Valley High School while they were in a cappella together.

The meeting took place well before either of them knew their lives would be so musically influenced.

She said, “He was shy when we first met but when we were in Jazzology, as time went on, he grew into himself.”

Lastimosa took a year off from playing piano after high school to figure out how to work toward making music for video games.

During his year off, he thought it would improve his music skills to start working with others and becoming more involved with the performance side of music.

Currently, Lastimosa has been working for a video game company that specializes in VR using Oculus.

At the company, he learns to program the music he creates into the gaming sets, while still being a member of Jazzology.

CCC is a place where music students can start new, refine their skills and pursue their goals, he said.

The process for getting into Jazzology is very rigorous. There are steps students must take and they must be invited audition.

Dr. Stephanie Austin, music program director and professor at CCC, started Jazzology in 2011.

She also started two other groups, Chamber Singers and Jazzanova, which she said are important steps before taking on Jazzology.

“It is a strenuous process. You must have advanced skills, outstanding musicianship and be able to part of a team,” Dr. Austin said.

Lastimosa enrolled in the music program at CCC in 2013 and attended the annual music showcase, where he was inspired to join voice class.

He took group voice where he started at level two of five levels and was eventually invited to be a Chamber Singer.

During his second year in Chamber, he was invited to audition for Jazzanova.

In Jazzanova, he had to commit a year to learn the repertoire of music as well recording the album that they do in the spring.

When asked about his time in Jazzanova, he said, “It was kind of the like the boot camp for group singing and our voices are so exposed. The repertoire, phrasing, and solos were all new elements for me. It put all of my musicianship skills to the test.”

At the end of the year in Jazzanova, he was invited to audition for Jazzology where he is now in his third semester.

This semester Jesse Chao, Laura Karst, Joseph Saeteurn, Natasha Singer and Lastimosa all work together to uphold the strong reputation that Jazzology has created.

Lastimosa said, “I enjoy working together with the other singers and understanding my own vulnerability, you learn a lot about yourself and others. It’s not all about talent. It’s really a social skill. Music is conversational.”

Lastimosa spoke fondly of all Jazzology members and how much they have taught him.

He mentioned how new lead soprano Natasha Singer has helped to expand his musical library.

Lastimosa plans to be in Jazzology until spring of 2019 where he will work on his transfer performance and materials.

He also hopes to record some of his own original composed music by then.

A big step and an honor for Lastimosa was performing at the Monterey Jazz Festival with Jazzology.

Their next performance will be on Monday at La Strada, an Italian restaurant in San Pablo.

Jazzology is also going to perform a gig at Club Bonafide in Manhattan, New York on April 2 thanks to member and manager Laura Karst.

During this trip, Lastimosa plans to use his time to visit Long Island University.