Passion for home

Pianist performing in Morgan Hill to preview upcoming festival

MUSICAL JOURNEY Astrid Morales Torres will perform piano works from around the world on Jan. 19 at Advent Lutheran Church in Morgan Hill. Submitted photo

International prize-winning pianist Astrid Morales Torres will present a program she calls a “musical journey” through Europe, America, Russia and Mexico as the second in a series of preview concerts for the forthcoming Coyote Creek Music Festival.

Morales, who is presently studying for her doctorate in piano performance with Richard Hamilton at Arizona State University, will perform at 5:30pm Jan. 19 at Advent Lutheran Church in Morgan Hill, the site of the June 12-21 festival.

“I have always loved combining different composers and themes on each recital,” said Morales, who also studied with Joaquín Achúcarro at Southern Methodist University after graduating from the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico. “As a Mexican artist, I have an enormous passion for the music of my home country and I believe that as performers, we have to be aware of the importance of sharing our music with different audiences.”

The first half of her Morgan Hill performance will be mainly dance-influenced piano works by European, Mexican, American and Russian composers. In the second half, she will perform music by renowned Mexican composer Manuel Maria Ponce, and finish with Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

The Coyote Creek Music Festival will bring professional classical musicians together for three weekends of chamber music concerts at the church, which had hosted the Norcal Music Festival in 2018 and 2019. Morales was a Fellow at that festival.

“I believe in new projects that promote classical music and especially chamber music,” Morales said. “I have had the pleasure to work with several musicians that are involved in this organization, and as an artist I have experienced the powerful and loving community that Northern California has. I have no doubt that CCMF will bring excellent concerts to the community.”

Morales made her performance debut at the age of 8 at a Mexico City radio station. At age 11, she made her solo debut with Queretaro Philharmonic, conducted by Jose Guadalupe Flores. In 2014 she won first prize at the General Concerto Competition at Meadows School of the Arts in Dallas, and performed with the Meadows Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Dr. Paul Phillips.

A passionate proponent of Mexican music, she has performed with such Mexican orchestras and conductors as Mexico State Symphony Orchestra, Nuevo Leon University Symphony, Mexico City Philharmonic, National Polytechnic Institute Symphony Orchestra and Aguascalientes Symphony. Her prizes and scholarships include the 2011 Youth Mexican Prize and Grand Prix to Exceptional Talents and Best Interpretation of Mexican Music at the second National Piano Competition.

Additional preview concerts include Gabriel Maffuz-Anker, violin, and Elene Kartvelishvili, piano, on Feb. 16; Quintet Latino on March 14; soprano Heather Faulhaber and pianist Kyle Jones on April 26; and string quartet Maffuz-Anker, violinist Kymber Gillen, violist Kate Brown and cellist Evan Kahn on May 31.

The festival itself plans to focus its chamber music concerts on building new audiences in the South Valley.

Pianist Astrid Morales will perform classical and Mexican music at 5:30pm Sunday, Jan. 19, at Advent Lutheran Church, 16875 Murphy Ave., Morgan Hill. Free; donations welcome. For information, visit

Susan Rife
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About Susan Rife
Lover of arts & books; ukulele learner; therapeutic knitter; long-distance runner. Former Arts and Books Editor at Herald-Tribune.