NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Nacogdoches pianist Antonio Ajero is a name you want to remember. Over the years, Nio has been featured several times on East Texas News for his musical accomplishments.
Now at the ripe old age of 12, Nio is about to reach yet another milestone. He been selected to play on a prestigious National Public Radio show.
A bike ride through the Stephen F. Austin State University campus provides fresh air for Nio Ajero and his younger sister Olivia. It's a break from another love of theirs, the piano.
This week Nio is in the limelight as Olivia looks on. Nio is rehearsing for a March 25th performance on the NPR show, "From the Top." The show highlights classically trained young musicians from across the country. It's broadcast on more than 220 radio stations nationwide. Many tune in.
"About a half a million listeners listen to it," Nio said. "The host is Christopher O'Riley. Like playing for him is kinda like a rare honor.
Nio is no stranger to recognition. He began taking piano at age 3 from his dad, piano professor Dr. Mario Ajero. His first performances happened at age 6. Numerous regional and national piano competition awards followed. The child is still impressed when shown where he'll be in a couple of weeks.
Nio will take the stage at LeTourneau University's Belcher Center in Longview. That's where the "From the Top" performance will be recorded. It will be Nio's most high-profile performance to date.
"It's a great way to get on the radar, but of course we try to stay grounded in that, you know, there is countless many other musicians and pianists who are also seeking out various opportunities, but it's something he has grown to really love on his own inherently, so we'll see how far that takes him," said Dr. Mario Ajero.
When Nio was little he had few inhibitions. Today, the pre-teen says he has discovered nerves. What helps him through them is a first-degree black belt in tae kwon do.
"It gives me a lot more confidence, so I can lose a lot of nervousness," Nio said.
From the sound of that, Nio may ought to be preparing for accepting a standing ovation.
In addition to studying with his father, Nio takes piano lessons with Linda Parr in SFA's Music Preparatory Division.