Alejandro Santoyo says he titled his new recording Dreams for a Better Tomorrow because “through my music, I want to instill hope in a positive future for all of us. I am a dreamer and an idealist. Imagining a better tomorrow is the first step before turning it into reality. Hence, the intent of this album is to generate profound emotions, encourage introspection and generate a feeling of well-being and love. It is meant to remind us of a universal goal of acceptance and kindness. Each piece is a celebration of our differences as well as an encouragement to come together.”
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With Dreams for a Better Tomorrow Santoyo pushes that message forcefully. “I have a self-imposed responsibility to help build a better society. This is my philosophy. This is how I can contribute: by lifting people’s spirits, creating positive feelings, and placing peaceful and friendly ideas and goals in their minds. I have been talking about this, believing in this and working toward this idea since the beginning of my career.”
As he demonstrates on his new album, Alejandro Santoyo is not only a world-class pianist, but also an exceptional composer, arranger and producer. This multi-talented musician does it all on this passionate full-length recording, whether playing solo piano pieces, compositions backing his piano with select instrumentation, or large-scale ensemble modern orchestrations. The common threads in each type of arrangement are his heartfelt piano playing and his memorable melodies. Santoyo has his own unique sound. His music’s special energy carries the listener on a deeply evocative journey, inviting his audience to write their own story, to imagine their own images as they listen. His music is optimistic, stirring, joyful, and heartfelt, and those feelings can be heard on this latest album.
Santoyo has a distinguished background in music. He studied at the prestigious Berkley College of Music in Boston and has obtained his Masters Degree in Musical Theory and Composition from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He has performed solo concerts to enthusiastic audiences, including large venues such as the International Mayan Festival in Yucatan, and the National Center for the Arts in Mexico City. In the US, he has written music for PBS-TV, and composed music for Shakespeare dramas, such as “Macbeth” and “Romeo and Juliet,” which he played live during the performances. On Dec. 12, 2018, Santoyo’s Symphony, “Child’s Play,” was performed by the DMA symphonic orchestra at the Baldwin Auditorium of Duke University, and received a standing ovation.
You can follow his journey of hope, determination, love, energy and emotion throughout the music on Dreams for a Better Tomorrow (these themes are often exhibited in the tune titles).
The Stories Behind the Songs:
The album begins with a powerful and orchestral piece, “Legends of Love,” in which Santoyo revisits “a mythical and romantic Romeo and Juliet story, where everything plays against two lovers. However, in this case, love is actually triumphant.” The composition “New World” with its dynamic piano, horns and drums, reflects Santoyo’s belief that we are on the verge of “a united consciousness and a new way of perceiving, thinking, loving, and forgiving.” For this to happen there has to be a time of “Leaving Behind” the past, which Santoyo evokes with his next mystifying solo piano track.
The uplifting tune “Home Again” was inspired by Santoyo’s encounter with a homeless woman who shared with him an essential wisdom: the only place where one can truly find happiness is a mental one. “Only in the mind can we feel whole and in peace.” On “Nostalgia,” beautiful piano and guitar intertwine recalling “unforgettable moments that we cherish and which touched our soul.” Santoyo calls the graceful solo piano piece “Amor” an “hymn to pure, tender love.” The vigorous piano music of “Hope” embodies a “desire for a better unified future.” And with “Awaken,” a rhythmic, pulsating tune, “we finally realize the magic we’re capable of together.”
In addition, Santoyo’s album captures the intimate side of life — family, women, children, beauty, softness and warmth. “Lullaby,” with its lush and dreamy arrangement, leads us to peaceful relaxation and rejuvenation. The memorable song “Nenita” is “a delicate piano solo hymn to all women and their gentle spirit and beauty.” Another lyrical melody, “Soft Touch,” is carried by heartfelt piano, strings, and guitar. It evokes those moments of bliss in our lives. “I imagine the love of God as he reaches down to gently touch our soul with love like the Michelangelo’s painting ‘The Creation of Adam’.” Santoyo’s inspiration for the graceful piano solo tune “Morning Light” was “that magical and peaceful moment when the sun suddenly comes in through the window in the morning and gently caresses our soul.”
The album continues with “The March of Time” which slowly builds with a full string orchestra and drums as Santoyo explores the inescapability of time. “It is undeniable and unstoppable, but if we accept its unavoidable ‘march’ and passing, then we might find that everything is moving forward as it should.” The forceful piano tune “Embrace” is an encouragement to acceptance and forgiveness, leading to another encouraging song “It’s All Right.” The following number on the album is titled “Happenstance” and is a romantic piano solo piece celebrating our synchronicity with the universe. The composition “Just Us” is about the unity and peace that is achieved when we all come together. The album ends powerfully with “The Miracle of Life,” a breathtaking and haunting eight-minute symphony that draws on piano and full orchestra “to create a celebration of our greatest gift — the life we have been given. It’s an enduring hymn that seems to have no wish to end, like life itself.”
Santoyo was first introduced to the violin and guitar when he was five years old. However, at seven, his mother bought him a piano and he instantly fell in love with the instrument. “When I sat at the piano for the first time, I was in front of a huge kingdom with endless sound combination possibilities.” Soon after that, he began composing. His musical influences come from a wide range of classical composers including Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, and Rachmaninoff, to film music composers such as Hans Zimmer and Ennio Morricone. Santoyo also draws inspiration from jazz pianists like Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea, but also pop artists and new age music.
Born in the United States, Alejandro (pronounced ah-le-hahn’-dro) has lived in Latin America and Europe, and speaks English, Spanish, and French fluently. As a teenager, Santoyo was a member of the famed boys band Microchips. He toured extensively and performed regularly on Spanish-language television broadcasts throughout North and Central America. He moved on to performing in a prominent rock band in Mexico City and jammed with famous bands such as Guns N Roses and Poison. After earning his Masters degree, Santoyo decided to focus on his lyrical creative side and started producing his own music. His compositions have been commissioned by dance and theater companies such as Shalleigh Dance Works (NC) and Naropa University Theatre (CO). Recently, Santoyo was commissioned to write the full score for a six-part PBS television documentary, “Fiesta Quinceañera” (the full film version was broadcast nationally on the TV program “Real South,” in April 2019). Santoyo also gives solo concerts internationally.