Pianist inspired by sounds of music

By Natalie Merrill

Every once in a while, one distinct moment in time can change a person’s life forever. For Dallas resident Astrid Morales Torres, it happened when she was a young child growing up in Mexico City.

Photos courtesy of Astrid Morales Torres

The only child of two journalists, Morales Torres developed a love for music all on her own. 

Her mother took her to a concert called “Carnival of the Animals,” and Morales Torres was fascinated by all the orchestra members and the extravagant masks they were wearing. That experience sparked an interest in her that would help pave the path for her future.

“I loved the whole orchestra spectacle and seeing the visuals, especially the masks — that was my favorite part,” she said. “From that moment, I knew I wanted to do music. I really wanted to be like them.”

Though Morales Torres did not have a piano in her own home, she began playing at the age of six. She continued with her music pursuits throughout high school and graduated from the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico City in 2012. When she was 20, she moved to the United States to attend Southern Methodist University on a full-ride scholarship while studying under Spanish classical pianist Joaquín Achúcarro.

“Life brings you into different possibilities,” she said. “That was just like a dream for me.”

While at SMU, Morales Torres earned Master of Music degrees in piano performance and piano pedagogy and a performer’s diploma in piano before moving to Arizona to obtain a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance from Arizona State University, where she also served as a faculty associate. She moved back to Dallas more than two years ago and holds a faculty position at the University of Texas at Arlington.

She said she loves not only being able to teach others and inspire them to develop true appreciations for music but also still has a genuine passion for performing and being able to ignite the same feelings she experienced as a young girl in Mexico City years ago. 

It’s the ability of music to captivate an audience that keeps her coming back to it each day.

“I’m very drawn to the sound of it — particularly the range of an orchestra,” she said. “That’s something that makes me very interested every time. And all that you’re playing and performing can make people feel something — that’s what inspires me most.”

Morales Torres performed last week at the Symphony Arlington, the Garland Symphony Orchestra and the Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra. 

Those three concerts were her first chance in Texas to perform with a full orchestra, allowing her to play what she said is one of her favorite pieces, Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major. Morales Torres said she was looking forward to such an opportunity, even with the pressure that comes with being a soloist.

“Every time I think about the full orchestra and having the piano in front, it’s both nerve-racking and exciting at the same time because you get to collaborate with all of these different musicians,” she said.

Morales Torres will perform with several UTA students on Saturday, Nov. 4, at Irons Recital Hall at the University of Texas at Arlington. Performance times are 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. In addition, she is preparing for a small tour in Northern California that will take place in March 2024.