Lozano caps off Mac career with solo piano recital

A performance he first imagined as a freshman watching Pedro Najar perform, Lozano delivers three Brahms pieces to a large MAC crowd as well as he’s ever played them

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Dave Winter

Lozano’s entire recital was stellar, but he said his favorite part came as he has nearing the end of his second solo piece, “Kavierstucke, Op. 166.” “I had a lot of adrenaline flowing, and it was super fun,” Lozano said of the moment. “I felt like I was really in my zone.”

Dave Winter, MacJournalism co-adviser

After neutralizing the nerves caused by a larger than expected audience in the MAC on Wednesday night, Luke Lozano delivered a masterful senior piano recital performance.

I was pretty liberal inviting people, and I honestly didn’t think that many would show up.”

— senior piano major Luke Lozano

“I was pretty liberal inviting people, and I honestly didn’t think that many would show up,” Lozano said. “It definitely added to my nervousness but I’m glad I got the opportunity to perform for that many people.”

Lozano played three pieces by 19th-century German composer Johannes Brahms, the first two pieces were solos and the last a quartet where Lozano was joined by two seniors, violinist Kai Cole, cellist Julian Casas and an 2018 alumnus, Adrian Jackson on viola.

“Originally I wanted to play a Brahms violin sonata, but eventually I chose to do that piano quartet because I wanted to play with more friends,” Lozano said. 

Klavierstücke, Op. 118 (Brahms): Luke Lozano, piano

Jackson was a senior when Lozano was a freshman, and he credited one of Jackson’s classmates, piano major Pedro Najar with starting Lozano’s mental preparation for Wednesday’s recital. Near the end of his freshman year, Lozano witnessed Najar’s senior piano recital, and he said the performance was so inspiring that he started thinking creatively about his own recital even though it was three years down the road.

“His recital really opened my eyes to how fun and challenging performing can be,” Lozano said.

I tend to practice at night on an electric keyboard with headphones. I often lose track of time when I do that, so I end up playing until 2 or 3 in the morning.”

— senior Luke Lozano

Lozano said he chose to play Brahms because he is a masterful melodist who writes “some of the best piano music ever written … His music has long phrases of musical development that often require deep focus to be able to play well. But because his music buildups are so long and nuanced, they tend to pay off at the climax.”

Lozano worked hard at perfecting the nuances that are possible with Brahm’s music. He worked with his future college professor at the University of Colorado on his two solo pieces, and he worked on his chamber piece with Dr. Anton Nel, the head piano professor at the University of Texas.

He said he practiced an average of 1-2 hours a day, but that the average was achieved with some days off and some intense days of practice where he played for 4-5 hours.

“I tend to practice at night on an electric keyboard with headphones,” Lozano said. “I often lose track of time when I do that, so I end up playing until 2 or 3 in the morning.”

The intense practice paid off. He played his recital without referring to any music, relying instead on the muscle memory achieved through his incessant rehearsal. He also said the difficulty of the music helped him memorize it because it requires such focus to play it that you remember it more easily.

He was pleased with Wednesday’s performance even saying he played the songs as well as he ever had.

Klavierstücke, Op. 119 (Brahms): Luke Lozano, piano

“My favorite moment of the recital was towards the end of my solo performance,” he said. “I had a lot of adrenaline flowing, and it was super fun and I felt like I was really in my zone.”

He reached that happy place because he believed his performance conveyed the nuances that exist in Brahm’s work.

“Brahms is one of the best examples of how amazing classical music can be if you’re willing to pay attention to it,” he said. “It’s like an amazing painting, only instead of paint on a canvas, you experience it through chords, melodies, and time.”

[Brahms’ music is] like an amazing painting, only instead of paint on a canvas, you experience it through chords, melodies, and time.”

— Luke Lozano

And time might be the best topic to end this story on because Lozano said that the extra time that COVID quarantine afforded him was a key factor in helping him have such a successful year on the piano culminating in Wednesday’s recital. 

“This pandemic was a huge blessing for me in terms of my piano playing,” Lozano said. “I had so much free time in the beginning when I was at home literally every day that I just started practicing so much. Even recently after I got vaccinated and started going back to school and having a normal life, my practice habits have stayed with me.”

Given those pandemic-enabled habits, it’s not surprising that for the second year in a row, Lozano was one of seven pianists in the state of Texas to qualify for the Texas Music Educators Association All-State Orchestra. As a junior, Lozano was the first Austin ISD pianist to earn that distinction since 1976. Earning it in back-to-back years puts Lozano in a rarefied place in AISD history.

He closed his interview by expressing his gratitude for everyone who has supported his piano pursuits and his enthusiasm for taking that pursuit to the next level at UC-Boulder in the fall.

Piano Quartet in C Minor, Op. 60 (Brahms): Luke Lozano, piano; Kai Cole, violin; Adrian Jackson, viola; Julian Casas, violoncello.