Oil wells and cattle may be the first impression one has of Houston, Texas. Some may be accustomed to the town’s sports groups like the Astros or Rockets or the famous BBQ joints that have made Houston the fourth largest city within the country. But, few would consider the Houston’s offerings in the world of classical music with as a lot reverence. After all, Houston is not Paris, Vienna and even New York or Nashville — cities steeped in wealthy, varying musica l traditions and history. Nonetheless, on a doubtlessly rainy night in late September, an unexpected name from a pal disrupts the monotony of ninety+ degree weather with the promise of slightly night music.
“Wha are you doo-hing,” a familiar, inimical voice asks?
“Mr. Director. How are you doo-hing? I am in Hewstone toonight, doo-hing a live performance. Are you able to come?
The acquainted, oddly accented voice lifted my mood immediately. Marcelo Cesena (along with his musical collaborator on the time) scored my first characteristic movie, Watercolors years earlier in Los Angeles. That working relationship shortly blossomed right into a profound friendship from the seeds of mutual respect and admiration. I welcomed the spontaneity and the opportunity to catch up. We hadn’t seen each other in over three years and both felt the urge to open the floodgates — to share the tales and revelations of our particular person inventive journeys. And, it was an opportunity to capture a portrait, something we talked about for a long whereas. He hurriedly gave me the address of the concert hall before we were interrupted by one other call. It was his agent. Extra dates. Extra cities. More details he needed assist maintaining with. Apparently, some things hadn’t changed. Marcelo is still in demand as an increasing number of people are discovering his uniqueness — likely as a result of influence and reach of social media.
Cesena is an achieved musician whose flawless technique and emotionally charged interpretations of works by Bach, Chopin and other masters in addition to his lively tributes to the popular people music of his homeland have earned him a growing repute including his second International Brazilian Press Award (Best Brazilian Musician Residing within the US) this year. His earlier win got here in 2009.
Born in So Paulo to a Brazilian mother and an Italian father, Cesena did not start his musical coaching till the age of 12 – an outdated man in world of would-be piano virtuosos who sometimes begin taking part in while in diapers. Motivated by a want to usurp a local brat who dazzled his mom one afternoon with a mediocre Beethoven sonata, Marcelo threw himself into his musical studies wholeheartedly, beginning with the Conservatorio Musical de Santana, in So Paolo. His intense dedication and precision earned him the praise of his friends and substantial recognition early on. He is a two-time winner of the Younger Soloists Competition of the Symphonic Orchestra of the State of So Paulo.
The real turning level came when Cesena started staging benefit performances to raise cash for numerous organizations including Brazilian orphanages and grace Odyssey — a corporation dedicated to providing every day care for people whose lives have been impacted by HIV/AIDS. The fantastic thing about his generosity is how a lot fun he appears to derive from making different folks completely satisfied. A favourite photograph of mine reveals Cesena at one in every of Rio’s poorest favelas. His arms are outstretched – the top of his head is poking out from a sea of little neatly shaved, eight yr outdated, brown heads.
“I when to geeve one hug – day geeve me again ten,” he says. He makes use of the picture as his Fb profile image.
Over time, Cesena has played all the things from retirement houses, children’s hospitals, avenue fairs and Eastern European live performance halls with the same inexhaustible munificence.
A Regents scholarship introduced him to the College of Arizona where he completed a Grasp’s degree in Piano Efficiency. Shortly thereafter he relocated to Los Angeles to check film scoring on the Movie, Tv, and Digital Entertainment Media Program at UCLA. It wasn’t lengthy before he had representation and a number of provides to attain different types of tasks. I suppose that is the place I got here in.
Cesena is genuinely enchanted by folks and demonstrates an inexhaustible potential to listen, to know and empathize with the suffering of another human being. His harmonies are salubrious, a rare balm in the cannon of 21st century music, magically, effortlessly supporting his melodies. Overall, his compositions are surprisingly free of artifice, giving you the impression you’ve heard it earlier than, loved it earlier than. Impressed by the often tragic narratives he hears folks from the people he encounters, Cesena hopes to jot down music that resonates and heals — one thing that may help remodel tragedy. Earlier this 12 months, he heard a news story about a thirteen year outdated lady who was struck by a car and killed by a man who was making an attempt suicide. Ironically, the driver survived. In a furious storm of empathy and creativity, he spent a sleepless night composing “Emily,” a nostalgic and lingering track on his new CD.
The trendy, park-crammed, museum district of Houston, is residence to the University of St. Thomas, Houston’s only Catholic college, based in 1947 – the proper venue to host Cesena’s music and spiritual philosophy. I arrive at Cullen Hall, a fashionable auditorium with stadium-model seating hours earlier than the present to seek out Cesena already deeply engaged with the occasion’s organizers and fielding calls from the promoters at his next engagement. Any apprehension I have felt was gone instantly. He hadn’t changed in three years ago.
The connection he makes with the Steinway is obvious, tactile bordering on amorous. He runs through a number of heat up exercises as we chat, making up for misplaced time. He asked how my writing was coming alongside. Did I’ve a new script? When did I think I might have one? Might he learn it? The success of our last collaboration was something we were both anxious to repeat. I hold my head down and shuffle my ft in mock humiliation. Cesena smiles patiently at me, his only expectation – that I observe my muse.
Moments later, a news crew arrives. Two olive skinned younger men set up video lights, in preparation for a taped interview for a Brazilian tv station. Cesena greets them like old buddies in Portuguese as if he had on a regular basis on this planet to reply questions about his career, his current tour and his plans for the longer term. By now, he’s accustomed to the media drill. With dates in Austin, Phoenix and Los Angeles still to come back, he says he is energetic and enthusiastic about his American audiences, the release of his new CD, and the alternatives and challenges nonetheless ahead on the musical/spiritual journey he calls his mission.
After the interview he walks me again to the stage and enlists my assist in wheeling the piano into place for the performance, (now less than an hour away) as he carefully considers each seat’s line of imaginative and prescient. I pick up on a recurring thread, and ask him about different composers and his thoughts on Brahms particularly, an ongoing dialog, a selfish effort on my half to affect his repertoire. He laughs without a hint of cruelty at my musical ignorance then holds up his fingers in self- ridicule.
“My hens are too smoll!”
Certainly his fingers are small for a live performance pianist. What he manages to perform regardless of the limitation makes his virtuosity extra outstanding.
Midway by means of the present, something happens within the room. Cesena leans steps to the foot of the stage to handle a younger boy who, up until then sat politely, if unenthused.
“Dooh you prefer to go to dah moo-vees?” he asks?
The boy nod. Cesena skips back to the piano. He glides over the keys, stirring a magical, sonic cauldron, summoning the familiar opening of John William’s “Theme from Harry Potter”. A second of recognition paralyzes the viewers. The hall comes alive! I can feel the temperature drop a number of levels. The young boy bounces in his seat in a contained hysteria. Subsequent to him, his father, the Brazilian consul sits mouth agape in astonishment. Cesena’s ability to captivate is common but his coronary heart has by no means strays too removed from his native roots. Familiar Brazilian favorites like “Tico-Tico no Fuba” all the time win an easy spherical of applause.
The performance ends. The viewers responds with a thunderous standing ovation. He leaves me with a duplicate of “Mosaico”, the brand new CD, the best way a physician writes a patient a prescription.
“When are you ko mean to vee sit me in El Aye?”
“Soon,” I reply vaguely. “I’ve an concept for a script.”
The night feels stuffed with possibilities. I feel refreshed. Moments later, I lose him in a swelling throng of well-wishers and new admirers. The subsequent morning Cesena prepares to make the 2 and a half hour drive from Houston to Austin, another viewers — more gifts of healing music.