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  • Beth Adams

Music Across the Americas

Last month, Paulo Castro graciously represented Indiana in the Partners Music Fest held on Instagram Live. He did an amazing job! (If you haven’t seen it yet, search for the music fest’s Instagram page @poa_festival to watch the performance.) As a music-degree holder and pianist myself, I was excited to grab a few minutes of his time to find out more about how he got into music, how he got to Indiana, and more about classical music in Brazil.

When did you start playing the piano? - Playing the piano was a very natural process to me. I guess I started playing piano around five years old at church, but I didn’t start formal lessons until I was around nine years old.

Who encouraged you to perform? - I’ve had so many people supporting me throughout the years. Very early on, I had a passion for music, but I didn’t have anyone specifically encouraging me to do so. But as I grew, I had the support of my parents, teachers, and friends.

Do you play other instruments besides the piano? - Yes, I am a choral conductor and a singer. I also play the flute.

So, what are your favorite genres to play? What about to listen to? - Those are very difficult questions to answer. I go through phases, but I love playing the post-romantic composers on the piano, and I also like to play jazz and bossa nova. When listening to music, my tastes are much broader: my list goes from Brahms to Cher, from jazz to folk music.

How did you end up studying in Indiana? - I was playing at a national choral festival in São Paulo, Brazil in 2008. The main guest conductor was Professor Henry Leck, a world-renowned choral conductor and founder of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir. He invited me to come here to study with him. I was awarded a full scholarship to come to Butler, where I got my Masters in Conducting and invitations to work here, and Indiana simply became my home.

Most classical music is associated with a handful of European countries. Yet, there are many Brazilian composers. Who should we be listening to? - You are correct. Certainly Heitor Villa-Lobos. But some of my favorites include Waldemar Henrique and Claudio Santoro. Antonio Carlos Gomes and Camargo Guarnieri are great too, and another one of my favorites is Chiquinha Gonzaga. Not to mention there are many MPB musicians (Brazilian Popular Music) who are amazing composers as well.

Tell me a little about music education in schools in Brazil. - Unfortunately, music is not part of the basic education in regular schools in Brazil. Only a handful of private schools offer choir, orchestra, or other music disciplines. But it’s not something standard compared with US schools. If you want to study music, you’ll have to look for independent schools.

And finally, who are your Top Three artists in your playlist rotation that you’ve been listening to recently? - My tastes are pretty much all over the place, so here are my top three from my “recently played” list: Tape Five, Ella Fitzgerald, and Putumayo: Cuba! Cuba!

Interview by Beth Adams

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