Next time you’re at Hotel Bel-Air, why not stop by our Bar & Lounge for a cocktail or two and a chance for Antonio to share his love of music with you.
Our legendary pianist returns to Hotel Bel-Air
November 02, 2022
Tell us about yourself
I was born in Veracruz, Mexico and graduated as a concert pianist from the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico City. After a career as concert pianist in my home country, I moved to the United States where I began playing piano in luxury hotels and restaurants. My first job in Beverly Hills was at the Polo Lounge in 1983, and I played there for nine years. After a stint at L’Orangerie, I started playing at Hotel Bel-Air in 1997.
Who inspired you to play music?
According to my parents, I started showing an interest in the piano in our living room when I was just three years old. My grandmother became my first piano teacher, and the movies my parents took me to see about the lives of Chopin, Liszt, Eddy Duchin and Liberace fuelled my passion for music.
How does it feel to be back at Hotel Bel-Air?
Wonderful, it feels like returning home. I’ve had so many incredible experiences here behind the piano in the Bar & Lounge that it really does feel like my second home, especially when I see so many familiar faces around me.
What did you miss most?
The elegant ambience, our wonderful guests, walking through the beautiful gardens on my way to work and, of course, crossing over Swan Lake.
What is your favourite song to perform?
This a tough question as I play more than 2,000 songs and love so many of them. If I have to pick one though, ‘Somewhere in Time’ is very special to me and linked to lots of good memories – that’s what music does for you.
How does Hotel Bel-Air compare to other venues?
Hotel Bel-Air is unique, completely different from all the other great venues that I’ve played at. It feels like I’m performing on an exclusive island, sheltered away from the roar of the city.
What’s your favourite music genre?
I’m a romantic pianist, that’s my kind of music. The timeless songs of George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Henry Mancini, A.L Webber and Michel Legrand are what I enjoy most. When I need to get a crowd going though there’s always one song I turn to and that’s, ‘New York, New York’.
Tell us one of your best-loved stories?
A few years ago, the night before the Oscars, a guy came up to my piano and asked me if I would mind playing some duets with him. I turned round and saw to my amazement that it was Billy Joel, so I said, “Of course!” We played music from the movies for over an hour and a half – I loved it and the audience did too.
A hidden sanctuary amongst the wooded hills, untouched by the clamour of life beyond the gates of Bel-Air. The most quintessentially private and exclusive hotel, delivering low-key elegance since 1946.
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