Below is an interview with life-long, family friend, Antonio “Tony” Romo. Tony has delighted our family for many years with his beautiful and unique music, and we could not be happier to share this interview we did with him. He has the heart and soul of true artist who has been gifted from above, and shares that gift with whomever he encounters. We are honored for him to share his heart about music and even more to have him a part of our family.
NHP: What inspired you to start playing music, in particular the piano?
AR: My dad loves music. Since I can remember, he was always listening to some kind of music. He traveled a lot, so he would often bring records from where he went. He had music from Japan, Brazil, Italy, Spain, Venezuela, Ireland, and many other countries. He also loves classical music and he had a huge collection of records and cassettes that we all grew up listening to. That constant exposure to all kinds of different sounds, instruments, rhythms, lyrics, and cultures made my brothers and I huge fans of music in general. I wake up with music, I drive with music, I work with music, I relax with music, and many times I go to bed with music. Sometimes I feel like I live in a movie because most of the time there is music in the background!
He was also a pianist and he would spend hours at the piano, especially during the weekends. He was also very social and we often had people over, many of which were closely related to music and other forms of art. One of his best friends was also a pianist. I remember he was very funny and could play all kinds of pieces, many of them by heart. Numerous times I went to bed with the sounds of piano, violins, guitars, singing, laughter, and poetry coming from a small studio apartment that was located at the back of our house. When I started playing piano myself, I was able to join the performing “crew” and I enjoyed that very much. My favorite moments were playing duets with my dad during those bohemian parties.
So, I owe my deep love of music and the piano to my dad.
NHP: When did you start playing and composing?
AR: I started playing when I was in elementary school. I studied with a few teachers until I was in high school. It was then that I stared experimenting with my own little pieces. A few years later, when I was in college, I was serious about studying more difficult pieces and composers. I believe that gave me some additional tools to inject techniques and variety to my own music and that’s when I felt that I was finally producing things that were worth sharing and performing publicly. In fact, it was during my years in college that I stared promoting myself in small theaters. Having classmates helped me bring an audience to each event.
NHP: Do you have a particular favorite piano?
Not really. I think every piano has its own character, sound and personality. As long as the piano is well tuned and in good working condition, you can blend with it and communicate through it. There are of course special pianos, just like there are special books, cars, or spaces. Grand pianos in general make it easier for me to feel inspired, especially those that go through a long process of quality manufacturing. I feel like I owe them my best concentration and my best effort when performing, which is not hard to do when in return they give you a sound so rich that you can almost hear your own soul speaking through their strings and wood.
In my experience, every instrument is someone’s favorite and therefore you should always treat them with respect. I once played at a country house that had an old rackety piano. I had just met the owners and asked them for their permission to play something. This was during a birthday celebration to which I was invited through someone else. As soon as I finished the first piece, the lady of the house came to me and gave me a hug and a fraternal kiss on the cheek. With teary eyes she told me that the piano was a gift from someone in her family and that she had never heard it sound like that before.
I believe that if you play every piano as if it was your favorite, it will show somehow and whoever hears you will perceive it.
NHP: What inspires a particular piece for you?
AR: As anyone with a hypersensitive spirit, I am constantly affected by all kinds of triggers. A memory, an event, an image, a phrase,…almost anything can become a potential source of inspiration. I tend to dwell on the negative aspects of life, although I enjoy trying to find a positive reason for everything that happens in this world. The constant thought of God and His plan, sparkles my ideas with a promising light that we often tend to overlook. That supernatural hope counterbalances my otherwise gray views. I think that mixture of moods and colors provides me with different resources to sketch and create new pieces.
NHP: You have a unique style to your music. How would you describe your genre?
AR: Artists whose work is similar to mine usually classify their style under “solo piano” or “neoclassical” music. Compositions in these categories are usually very melodic and mellow, although there are of course many variations within the same menu. Personally, I mostly enjoy creating soft romantic pieces. I like switching from major to minor keys (and vice versa) during a single piece because that helps me move the listener to different interior places and take their soul on a short trip into their own memories and feelings. By alternating between major and minor scales, I can either tell a multi-scene story or allow the audience to tell themselves one of their own.
NHP: Who has inspired you the most or had the biggest impact on your music?
AR: I have had several favorite musicians over the years. I can even remember specific times in my life according to whose music I used to listen to back then. The first artist that sounded different to everything I knew before was Yanni. I was in college. Since then, I have particularly liked the work of David Lanz, Michael Jones, George Winston, Suzanne Ciani, Kostia, and more recently Brian Crain, Yiruma, Helen Jane Long, and Ryan Stewart among others. They have influenced me musically, but also have inspired me to do things on my own since many of them are independent artists who started by being in charge of every aspect of their careers; from composing to producing, promoting and performing.
NHP: What do you love about music in general?
AR: Music has been an essential part of my life since I can remember. In my opinion, music is a taste of Heaven. It motivates, relaxes, consoles, energizes, amuses. Music is the good friend who laughs with you when you’re happy and cries with you when you’re sad. Music is a universal language that makes people smile, dance, or cry regardless of their age, race or background. It’s a direct channel to the heart and an invisible coat for the soul. There is music for love and music for war. Mothers sing lullabies to their newborn babies while friends and family dedicate farewell songs to those who have departed. There is profane music for the worldly and sacred music for the holy. Even a single sustained note can either give you the creeps or make your eyes teary in a movie, depending on the scene. That is the power of music!
NHP: Which original piece have you composed that has the most significance for you?
There are a few pieces that I consider special. It would be hard to pick only one. Silence Messengers was the first one I ever played in public. Liquid Crystal was the first one I composed after college when I started a group with which I performed for several months. I also like Night Rain and A New Journey just because of their musical features. I guess every piece is like a child because it comes at a specific time, under particular circumstances. Every one of them is somehow part of your heart. They come to you as a sketchy idea, you work hard on them, polish them, give them a name, and at the end you let them go out into the world.
NHP: And lastly, where can people find and purchase your music?