Paraguay’s history displayed in ballet music from IVC

The sibling duo pay tribute to Elisa Lynch and how she initiated the piano composition in Paraguay

Evelyn Caicedo

Daniel Luzko, an instructor of music theory and composition at Irvine Valley College, received the news last summer that his sister, Nancy Luzko, and he would be creating the music for a ballet titled “Madame Lynn.”

The ballet opened the celebrations of the bicentennial anniversary of their native country of Paraguay’s independence.

The story within the dance served as a historic memory to Elisa Lynch and how she initiated the piano composition in Paraguay. The piece was such a hit that Municipal Ballet of Asuncion commissioned their work, and it was then performed by the National Symphony Orchestra of Paraguay.

With a year’s worth of back and forth emails between Nancy, who lives in Miami, FL., and Daniel, the collaboration of the song took “a lot of effort,” Daniel Luzko said. The music composed ultimately lasted two hours long with 42 pieces, and two acts.

“Last summer I spent 10 hours each day adding on to the piece. It was definitely a lot of work,” Daniel Luzko said. “My sister and I had to think about all the instruments involved in the piece, as well as the story, but it was an amazing challenge.”

Nancy contributed to the piano compositions and Daniel focused on the orchestra and other instruments surrounding the piano. The task proved not easy as they had a very important role in the ballet, setting the scene.

“It was very challenging in parts of the music, because we had to put ourselves in the 1800s era,” Nancy Luzko said. “We had performances every two weeks and it was a full house every night. The audience seemed to be very moved by the performance because it reminded them of the history of Paraguay.”

Due to the great outcome of the ballet, Paraguay will hold 15 more performances in May.

The siblings’ start in the music industry began with an insertion to a very musically talented family to look up to and their upbringing in Encarnacion, Paraguay with five brothers and sisters, who all inherited the musical gene.

“We all did some type of musical training when we were younger,” Daniel Luzko said. “We studied piano, violin, bassoon, and music theory.”

Being introduced to classical music during his younger days, he began idolizing Mozart and other influential musicians of classical pieces.

“[My brothers and sisters] were introduced to many different styles of music,” he said. “That upbringing had impacted me in a good way.”

Daniel Luzko first obtained his education in Paraguay, then moved to the US and attended the University of Kansas. After completing his masters of arts degree, he switched gears for his post-graduate studies in piano and music composition from the Chopin Academy in Warsaw, Poland.

He applied for the job at IVC after receiving his doctorate degree in musical arts in the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

He added that working with the students at all levels brings joy to his life every day.

“I had never lived in the West Coast so it was a big change,” he said. “The best aspect of the job is to teach the students. It is very gratifying.”

He said that his greatest accomplishment was in 1998 when Villa de Madrid International Music Composition Competition awarded him with first prize for his piece “Piano Concerto.”

“That was a very good day for me,” he said. “Nancy had performed it and we had grown very close at that moment.”

IVC’s music department will be holding a concert for student compositions on April 23 where ten students will be chosen and featured.

“I want to invite people to come to the performance so they could support the work of IVC students,” Daniel Luzko said.

Currently Nancy and Daniel are organizing two festivals for the bicentennial anniversary of Paraguay’s independence where both will be playing pieces on the piano in Miami and Philidephia in April.

In addition to the festival, they are also working on another ballet piece because the ballet company enjoyed the other commissioned another one, Daniel Luzko said.