Music for the Spirit: An Interview with Pianist Gustavo Romero

Music is so important to many people. Purely as an experience that soaks into the spirit and becomes part of the soul, wonderful feelings result.

Another aspect is that, in particular the professional keyboard musicians represent to me, a pinnacle of human endeavour and accomplishment. A range of repertoire stored in the brain, no reading the music, and the finger movements which are an amazing feat. An example to us all that this is what our bodies and minds are capable of, potentially.

An inspiring example!

©Dr. Ilya Sandra Perlingieri

I think what I like most about the piano is that the piano takes me to a better space –always.”  Gustavo Romero

Over the past two weeks in San Diego, the brilliant international pianist Gustavo Romero gave a recital and two collaborative performances with Malashock Dance. The magnificent recital of Bach, Schubert (“The Wanderer Fantasy”), and Chopin was sold out. There was a standing ovation on Saturday March 9 for the 25th Season Malashock Benefit Concert. Yet, not one review in any local paper appeared.

Romero is a San Diego native, with heritage also from Guadalajara, Mexico. He was a child prodigy and began his piano lessons at age 5. By the time he was 10, he had played with Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic. It was at Rudolf Serkin’s urging that Romero moved to New York to study at Julliard. He is a graduate of Julliard (with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees) and has won numerous international piano competitions, including the Avery Fisher Young Artist Career Grant (1983), and First Prize in the Clara Haskil International Piano Competition in Switzerland. Romero has played in Hong Kong, Mexico City, Johannesburg, Bangkok, a seven-city recital tour in Japan, and at the restored Teatro La Fenice, in Venice. But in his own hometown and the wider scope of international music, this stellar artist is so under appreciated. Why isn’t he invited to play with the San Diego Symphony, or New York Philharmonic again, or the L.A. Philharmonic with the brilliant conductor Gustavo Dudamel? What about Carnegie Hall or Covent Garden recitals?

I first heard Gustavo Romero in 1999 when he played all of Chopin’s solo piano compositions to an enraptured audience. In celebration of the 150th anniversary of Chopin’s death, and with six concerts performed over several weeks, Romero played all the Etudes, Preludes, Ballades, Impromptus, Waltzes, and Nocturnes. Romero’s bravura playing so reminded me of Arthur Rubinstein’s musicality: lyrical and sensitive pianissimos, a depth of interpretative understanding, and power and agility –all combining in magnificent performances. It was playing I had not heard since Rubinstein retired. Yes, there are some people playing today with technical brilliance, but they are missing the nuanced soul connections, the passion, that is so evident in Romero’s playing. It is electric and transformative to watch and hear him! As Romero said to me: “These days, dignity is often missing. It’s not ‘in.’ But, flashy and superficial playing is.”

Complete article linked here.

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