Photo by Julia Cartwright

Bobby Orozco has a second life. During the day, he’s a beloved Richardson ISD staff member, recently shifting roles from attendance clerk to maintenance. He’s warm, engaging and kind to the students he’s seen grow up since middle school.

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When the schools close down for the day, Orozco moonlights as one of Dallas’ premier classical pianists, with five original composition albums to date. His work is entirely instrumental.

“I much prefer to convey my music to the audience without words,” he says. “Music without words gives me the job as the musician to convey the music as I perform it.”

Despite decades of training under his belt, Orozco still recalls the rush of composing his own music for the first time.

“I poked around on a few impromptu ideas on the piano but they never had any structure or form,” he says. “I didn’t begin to score them out until my second year in college and would anxiously bring my piano scores to my college music teachers. I never got much of a response from them but I loved having that blank manuscript paper and filling it up.”

Orozco’s composition creates a finely tuned dreamlike atmosphere, with performances that often feature a second fine art element on stage. The dreamy tone is not unintentional; Orozco released Dreamers in 2021 and has songs called “Dreamboat Dancer,” “Can You Tell I’ve Been Dreaming” and “A Dreamer’s Guide To Slowly Dying.”

“I’ve put myself in the seat of the audience and I find it to be aesthetically easy on the eye and ear to listen to a room get filled with sound and a blank canvas literally come to life,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to fill the performance space up with dancers, painters or even spoken word poetry.”

Each show is booked and promoted by Orozco himself, usually at small, intimate venues such as YAM Dallas.

“Being a solo pianist doesn’t come with a built-in crowd like playing in a band at breweries and dive bars,” he says. “So it’s been quite the endeavor renting venues and hoping people buy tickets.”

That said, Orozco knows a thing or two about Texan dive bar revivals. He’s played drums and bass for DFW’s deep country outfit The Driftin’ Outlaw Band for over a decade. Though a musical left turn, Orozco takes inspiration from his work with the band to help promote his solo piano tracks.

“I’m not in a community of people that do what I do with piano so I’m pretty heavily influenced in building my career as a pianist the same way I see bands build their following.”

Orozco doesn’t just stand out for his talent; his two full tattoo sleeves have become part of his branding since he began his career.

“My first tattoo was a small treble clef on my arm that I got after a failed piano audition in 2006,” Orozco says. “It’s probably unusual to see a pianist covered like me but I don’t feel that it has anything to do with my artistic expression. It’s just something I’ve been into with or without music.”

As he continues to build on his catalog, Orozco looks to his past to predict his future.

“I’ve been an untraditional pianist playing untraditional venues for a while now,” he says.

“If I get the listener to feel anything at all, I’ve done my job and they’ve done theirs.”