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Loreta Kovacic Croatian pianist-composer, singer and Boom Boom Room performer in Houston
By Nenad N. Bach and Darko Žubrinić | Published  05/4/2014 | Music | Unrated
Accomplished musician, teacher, author and children’s theater director

Loreta Kovačić, Houston, Croatian singer, pianist and performer,
holds Doctorate in piano performance from Rice University

Dr. Loreta Kovacic, who is fondly referred to as the “Alchemist”, is an accomplished musician, teacher, author and children’s theater director. Her spirit is what makes her a true alchemist in that she has the uncanny ability to transform the seemingly normal into true gold. This ability is reflected in the children she works with, inspiring a new level of confidence through music and performance!

Loreta holds a Doctorate in piano performance from Rice University, but is widely known for her performances from small local stages to Carnegie Hall. Her critically acclaimed work, Brother Tadpole, garnered her a Grammy nomination. When she’s not performing she plays, composes, teaches, directs and creates original children’s musicals at her piano studio in the Houston Heights.

In 2013 Loreta completed her first music theatre instructional book "Alchemist da Capo", an original and innovative music theatre program for children 18 months to 6 years old, currently used at Esperanza daycare in Houston. Copies of this book are available for order via email . She is planning to complete her unique Alchemist Piano method book for Beginners and Intermediate piano students by the end of 2014. 

Loreta with her daughter Maya

Following her passion and inspired by her daughter, who has dyslexia, and her husband who has Parkinson's decease, she decided to create a non-profit theatre program that welcomes and encourages children with dyslexia and adults with Parkinson's decease to help them gain confidence and inspire their creative side. This all original children’s musical theater, Alchemist Piano Theatre, or APT, located at 2905 Reagan street in Woodland Heights.  Alchemist Piano Theatre performance space is inside Esperanza School campus on 1100 Roy street, off of Washington and Shepherd in Houston Heights. Other performance venues include Discovery Green park and various schools and churches in Houston.

Her songs have been played on Croatian radio and TV, Houston’s radio KUHF and KPFT and the International Space Station. Along with her theatre work Loreta enjoys performing music for the silent films of Charlie Chaplin and Georges Melies at venues like Discovery Green and MFAH.  She often performs with APT band and APT children singers and actors; especially with theremin player and husband,  Joe Parani, also known as “Brother Tadpole”.  Joe acts in every APT show, adding a dimension of comedy, improv and all around great time in theatre!!! He is a space flight trainer at NASA, but at APT,  he creates magic with children on stage! 

“Known for her virtuoso performances from Boom Boom room to Carnegie Hall, she is also recognized as an author of imaginative children’s music. Her style is inspired by music from around the world, a unique, international mixture of influences. This self proclaimed “Texas Slav” calls her own style “Slavic & Western”. She moves from classical to pop and jazz genres as fluidly as her fingers dance around the ivories”Houston Press

“Her show has a distinctive cabaret feel to it, with all the notes filtered through her larger-then-life personality.” Culturemap, Houston, 2010

Loreta’s first albums were classical piano masterpieces

    Loreta Kovacic, Pianist  (music of Prokofiev, Beethoven, etc)

                                      (all also available directly from Loreta)

    Piano Notturno (music of Brahms, Livadic, Liszt, Chopin, etc    

 Her latest albums are original children’s theater songs:

** BROTHER TADPOLE classics (available on Itunes and Amazon)


From Carnegie Hall to the Boom Boom Room: Loreta Kovacic's wandering musical journey
BY DAVID THEIS  4.9.10 | 7:19 am
 News_David Theis_Loreta

Boom Boom Room

Get Directions - 2518 Yale St. Houston
Just the other day, the earnest bohemians sipping their coffees and tapping at their laptops over at Antidote Coffee got a musical treat. A woman among them who was not so earnest — her flamboyant eyewear gives her away —- pulled a toy-like musical instrument out of her bag and began to play. The instrument, a melody horn, consists of a “laptop” keyboard maybe two feet long, and a plastic tube that the player blows into as she tickles the ivories, producing an accordion-like effect.

The effect was both very cool and very random. But when the performer, Heights resident, Shepherd School of Music PhD, and unique presence in the Houston music scene Loreta Kovacic, asked if I knew the tune, I had to say, "no."

“It’s the Internationale,” she smiled behind her tinted glasses. “It was bigger than the national anthem back home.”

She paused a beat then smiled again. “Just call me Comrade Loreta.”

“Back home” was Zagreb, Croatia. ... It was her priest uncle who first taught her to play the organ when she spent summers with him at his parish on a lavender-covered Dalmatian island. “He’d pump and I’d play, and vice versa,” she says.

From there she studied piano in the government music schools, which were “very structured. They developed skill but didn’t inspire creativity.” For inspiration Kovacic turned to an 81-year-old woman composer. “If you want to be creative, just write your own music,” Kovacic remembers her saying. “I was shocked, to tell you the truth, to hear an old woman say that.”

In high school she helped form a rock band that had a national following. She played the Polymoog Synthesizer. “I was the first female rock electronic keyboard player in the country,” Kovacic says. ...

By 1986 she had come to the U.S. to study piano. Her Ph D studies brought her to Rice. She married and had two kids, and now she hopes she never has to leave.

“Austin is a small town compared to Houston. Barcelona is too. I’m serious.”

Kovacic had a bright future as a classical pianist; she gave two solo performances at Carnegie Hall, the latest in 2008. “The New York critics said there was hope for me with 20th Century music,” she says.

But fate—in the form of severe tendonitis—stepped in before her second Carnegie concert. The tendonitis set in whenever she “pounded the piano,” she says. “And with my personality I have to pound.”

She couldn’t practice for three months before that second concert. “Up until the day of the concert I was wondering if I could perform.” Woozy on painkillers, she took the stage, and when she left it she knew her career as a concert pianist was over. “My hand was so swollen afterward I could hardly walk because of the pain,” she says.

So she changed the scale of her musical ambitions. Now she composes and directs children’s musicals, and plays around town at venues like the Mucky Duck, the Contemporary Arts Museum, and, this Saturday night, at the Boom Boom Room. To spare her wrist she plays an electronic keyboard, or, now, the melody horn. She also sings. Her show includes “songs from countries that I like: Brazil, Cuba, Italy” and her own compositions. Many of her songs are about local figures, such as the Art Guys. The show has a distinctively cabaret feel to it, with all the notes filtered through her larger-than-life personality. (Her husband, Joe Parani, who trains astronauts for a living, accompanies Loreta on a theremin he built from a mail-order kit.)

So what’s it like, playing the Boom Boom Room after Carnegie Hall? Is it a comedown?

“Hey! The Boom Boom Room is cool too!”

It will be even a little cooler on Saturday night.


Za vsaku dobru riječ

Based on Croatian song Fala (Thank You).

I can eat you, you are so sweet
Oh plywood I'm at your feet
With the first two cuts for free
You are the only one for me

I am always going back for more
Yellow pine now you're all mine
I never get enough of you
Oh plywood you are so fine

You are stronger then a hurricane
And that's what turns me on
All I can do is say;
Oh thank you thank you plywood
All I can do is say,
Oh thank you thank you plywood!

I thank you for your strength
And your versatility
You've enriched my life and yet
I love you because
You are so cheep!!

I'll nail you to the wall
Then I'll do whatever I want to you
You are warped and that's ok
I can use you anyway
You are warped and that's ok
I can use you anyway

Oh thank you thank you plywood!

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