Bobby Orozco's piano in his Garland Texas home, The Marigold House
Here in Garland, Texas we have opportunities to listen to all kinds of live music—from country and blue grass to classical. Last night Charlie and I joined the lucky ones who had the opportunity to listen to Bobby Orozco play his grand piano in the living room of the Orozco’s home (also known as “The Marigold House”) on 1414 Resistol here in Garland, Texas.
Before leaving we joined others in audiences who before us signed a door in the Marigold House. I feel overwhelmingly lucky to have been able to spend time listening to this great musician and composer perform live in such a small intimate setting. Tonight there were 15 in the audience—young, old and in between.
Jessica Orozco and door in their home that has been autographed by audiences who have attended concerts at the Marigold House.
Jessica, Bobby’s wife, is a Spanish teacher who has studied in Spain, painter and gracious hostess. Her work decorates the walls of the two rooms that are open to the public when they have house concerts. The audiences who attend these intimate concerts also have a small part to play in decorating the Marigold House since they are asked to sign a door in the Orozco home before leaving. Although you can’t see it in the photo above, Charlie and I both signed our names before leaving. The audiences also get to add touches of spray paint to a piano that sits in their front yard. Charlie and I sprayed some paint on the Orozco's yard art piano before we left for home.
Bobby Orozco, a Garland Texas resident, may not be Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, but he is likely the one pianist/composer closest to Mozart’s talent living today in the DFW area.
(Being a modest person, I’m sure Bobby will squawk at my comparison; however it is nonetheless true as I heard it with my own two ears.)
The parallels between the two musicians are very apparent in Orozco’s style and compositions and approach to music. Like Mozart, Bobby has a gift for absorbing and adapting features of others’ music into his own compositions. For one example, as a child Mozart met and listened to the music of J. C. Bach. Mozart adapted many features from Bach’s baroque style to his own compositions. There were many other musicians whose features Mozart absorbed as well.
Bobby, being a member of our “Heinz 57” American culture, has a style that reflects the classical purity of artists such as Mozart as well as that of contemporary artists. For example, last night he played a composition reminiscent of Floyd Cramer, an American Hall of Fame pianist who was one of the architects of the Nashville sound. I was not a bit surprised when midway through the concert last night (Saturday September 22, 2018) Louis Moore, a member of the audience, asked Bobby to name his favorite composer and Bobby, with no hesitation, answered, “Mozart.”
Like the prodigy Mozart, Bobby too began playing the piano before the age of five. During his last ten years Mozart frequently incorporated chromatic harmony into his compositions. [For those who may not know, chromatic harmony is harmony (chords) that uses notes that do not belong to the key the music is in. It’s not an easy composition technique and the execution (playing of the composition) is heavily reliant on timing. Simply put: if the timing is slightly off, the result will be cacophony, not music.] Bobby expertly demonstrated his skill not only in composing, but also in executing this technique when he played one of his many original compositions, “Facing the Sun.”
In this piece the right hand (reserved primarily for treble clef) played in a major key while the left hand played in a minor key at the other end of the piano. Bobby told us the piece was inspired during a camping trip taken when the heat index was off the charts. They were surrounded by a field of sunflowers and noticed how the flowers turned to face the sun. When they went to sleep at night the sunflowers faced west. When they awoke in the morning the sunflowers faced east. I love knowing where and/or under what circumstance a composer made their compositions as this knowledge adds another depth to my understanding of the sounds of their creation. This knowledge provides a context, a backdrop for enhancing a fuller appreciation of the music and helps to bring the audience a little closer to the experience of the artist.
The piece is beautiful and Bobby played it from his soul with precision. For me, the music made with his right hand evoked visions of the delicate gentle organic movements of the sunflowers following the sun across the sky. The left hand created sounds reminiscent of the feelings of the heavy oppressive heat of a Texas summer—creating strikingly different yet harmonious sounds blending together in a feeling delivered on the wings of music instead of words.
Naturally, with my love of the garden, it’s no surprise that this particular piece with its deep organic connections was my favorite. The next time I see Bobby I might suggest that he walk around the Garland Community Garden (Naaman School Road and Brand) and see if a new composition might be inspired in our garden setting that so many have described as magical and healing. Thank you Bobby and Jessica for a great evening.
Epilogue: Financial Survival
How do classically trained musicians survive financially? In the days of Mozart musicians often survived under aristocratic patronage. For example, Emperor Joseph II appointed Mozart as his “chamber composer.” Today it’s not as easy. [I know firsthand regarding the difficulty of identifying aristocrats here in Garland in my quest to establish a Makerspace for our community. It would be great to have a makerspace with a special space for musicians like Bobby.]
Bobby has a degree in music from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas where he studied under the tutelage of Dr. Richard Dowling, a Steinway Artist, who specializes in chamber and jazz/ragtime piano works. Bobby graduated in 2011 with a degree in piano. Thus, one of his avenues for income is substitute teaching. Currently some lucky students in Rowlett have him for a while.
In addition to substitute teaching, Bobby plays gigs for various types of business openings and events. Then there are his house concerts such as the one last night, which brings in a whooping $7 a head, the current price of tickets to the Marigold House. Also through his company, Sailing West Music, Bobby composes and plays music for weddings and other special events. And finally he sells beautiful cotton T-shirts that feature silk-screened music sheets with his compositions.
Bobby Orozco is definitely a musician worth supporting.