ASU doctoral student performs concert in international collaboration

By

Lynne MacDonald

Astrid Morales Torres, Doctor of Musical Arts student in piano performance, showcased Mexican music in a livestreamed concert this fall as part of an international collaboration between Arizona State University's School of Music, Dance and Theatre and the Consulate General of Mexico in El Paso, Texas.

“I am very passionate about Mexican composers and the music from my country,” Morales Torres said. “It is an honor for me to be considered as one of the main advocates of Mexican concert music. I have been fortunate to be invited frequently to play piano solo recitals in which I include music by famous Mexican composers and by living Mexican composers. As a Mexican myself, I think it is very important to share this music internationally and increase public awareness of the classical music scene in Mexico.” 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jacob Prado González, then consulate general of Mexico in El Paso, organized a series of virtual concerts and artistic activities called "Cultural Fridays," which invited artists to share a recital from home or broadcast a live performance. 

Morales Torres was contacted by Nadia Ornelas, cultural attaché for the consulate general, to record a virtual piano recital that could be shared as part of the series. The concert was livestreamed and recorded without an audience in ASU’s Katzin Concert Hall and then shared through the consulate's social media channels.

The concert, "Estampas Musicales" ("Musical Prints"), was a musical journey through Europe and North America exploring melodies and rhythms from selected countries. The program included Spanish composers Federico Mompou and Luis G. Jordá, French composer Claude Debussy, Mexican composer Manuel M. Ponce and American composer George Gershwin.

Morales Torres made her debut as a pianist at a local radio station in Mexico City when she was 8 years old and her soloist debut with Queretaro Philharmonic three years later.

She began her solo career in 2003 and has appeared with the Mexico State Symphony Orchestra, Nuevo León University Symphony, Mexico City Philharmonic, National Polytechnic Institute Symphony Orchestra and Aguascalientes Symphony.

As a recitalist, Morales Torres has performed in the United States, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Canada. As a chamber musician, she has performed in various ensembles including SYZYGY, directed by the acclaimed violinist Matt Albert, and has collaborated with the world-renowned cellist Andrés Díaz. She also served as Fellow Pianist at NorCal Music Festival in 2018 and 2019.

Morales Torres recorded her first CD, “Rimero Musical,” with music of Mexican composer Ladislao Juárez and collaborated in “El Oficio Mío” with music of Mexican composer Armando Rosas.

She was awarded the 2011 Youth Mexican Prize and Grand Prix to Exceptional Talents and Best Interpretation of Mexican Music at the Second National Piano Competition “Petrof – Symphony – Pearl River” and first prize at the 2014 General Concerto Competition, Meadows School of the Arts in Dallas, and performed with the Meadows Symphony Orchestra.

Morales Torres has served as a faculty associate at ASU and as piano faculty at the ASU Community Music School (formerly Music Prep). She is a member of the 2019 Binational Cultural Forum of Mexican Artists based in the United States representing Phoenix, organized by the Mexican government.

She earned a Master of Music in piano performance (2014) and piano pedagogy (2016) and a performer’s diploma (2014) from Southern Methodist University. She graduated in 2012 from the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico City.

Morales Torres currently studies with internationally recognized pianist Robert Hamilton, piano faculty in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre.

“I would love to continue a concert career performing not just piano solo recitals, but chamber music with colleagues and as a soloist with orchestras,” Morales Torres said. “In addition, teaching piano brings so much joy to my life that I would like to continue balancing both paths. Even though all my concerts were canceled due to the pandemic, I think this is a great opportunity for us, as artists, to continue developing our creativity in order to find more diverse ways to share music with others.”