Spotlight: Andy Luse

Luse likes to have fun with classical favorites

By: Cory Ohlendorf

Writer Cory Ohlendorf (cory.ohlendorf@yahoo.com) played the drums for eight years.

Before Andy Luse took the stage in his Kennedy Center debut, he thought back to the first performance he had seen there—a piano competition he watched at age nine.

“I’d dreamed about playing there,” says Luse, now 26.

Raised in Bethesda, Luse began studying piano at age eight. Two years later he performed his first concerto with the New England Youth Ensemble. He graduated from Princeton with a degree in history and a certificate in music, then got a master’s in piano from Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Institute.

After Hopkins, Luse took a consulting job to pay the bills. He never gave up on music.

“Strathmore had this program for emerging artists” to learn the industry and show their skills, Luse says. “I entered on a fluke and won.”

Luse quit his day job to perform at Strathmore. He met musicians from around the area—an experience that led to his next project, Classics on the Rocks.

Developed with a friend at Juilliard, the program puts on concerts that feature classical favorites but with a mix of styles and musicians. Luse hopes to add street performers. “I think it’d be great to get those drummers who bang the big paint cans,” he says.

The concerts are at casual venues like Busboys and Poets in DC. Performers often take part in a discussion afterward.

“There’s this notion that at a classical concert you have to wear your suit and tie, sit up straight, and not talk, which I think intimidates people,” Luse says. “Music is a good way for people to relax and have fun.”