News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Improv pianist who can turn a ringtone into a song to perform in Fort Worth

Composer and performer Gabriela Montero will perform April 25-26 in Fort Worth.
Courtesy photo
Anders Brogaard
Composer and performer Gabriela Montero will perform April 25-26 in Fort Worth.

For Gabriela Montero music is akin to a first language.

The Venezuelan-born pianist and Latin Grammy winner has performed with orchestras around the world, having made a name for herself as a masterful artist and improviser.

“Improvising is something that’s very, very natural … like having a conversation with someone,” she told the Fort Worth Report ahead of her trip to the city for back-to-back Cliburn Concerts. “It’s more a language that comes naturally to you, and — in my case — it’s a language that I’ve always spoken.”

Her sold-out performance at the Kimbell Art Museum’s Renzo Piano Pavilion will focus on the film industry and the impact on it by three Russian composers: Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Rachmaninov. She will end the evening by improvising a score to “The Immigrant,” a silent film that Charlie Chaplin wrote, directed and starred in.

The second evening will take place at Tulips FTW and will include works from Bach, César Franck and more improvisation with the help of the audience.

Montero once took a fan’s distinctive ringtone and turned it into a seven-minute fugue and, another time, riffed on a Turkish folk song.

“There’s no limit to what can happen with improvisation,” she said.

If you go

Gabriela Montero’s two Fort Worth piano improv performances allow you a choice of dates and distinctively different venues.

Where: Kimbell Art Museum Renzo Piano Pavilion
3333 Camp Bowie Blvd.
When: 7:30 p.m. April 25
Tickets: Sold out

Where: Tulips FTW
112 St. Louis Ave.
When: 8 p.m. April 26
Tickets:$45 general admission

In addition to being known for her skill at improvising, Montero is well-regarded for her compositions. The artist is currently working on an original piece for the Seventeenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

Montero will also serve as a member of the competition’s jury, and in its preliminary phase, 30 contestants will perform her original composition before 18 pianists will be selected to advance to the quarterfinal round.

Montero has started her composition but said that the more she plays it, the more the piece evolves.

“It’s funny that a lot of the, a lot of young artists that I meet … they always refer to past composers, and they say, ‘Please have pity on us,’ and, ‘Don’t make it impossibly difficult.’ So I’m trying to keep that in mind, but I’m not sure I will succeed,” she said.Applications for the 2025 competition are due Oct. 16.

Marcheta Fornoff covers arts and culture for the Fort Worth Report. Reach her at At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board. Read more about our editorial independence policyhere.

This article first appeared on Fort Worth Report and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.