Eddy del Rio
What happens when you bring an assembly of junior high school kids in to listen to a recording of J.S. Bach’s B-Minor Mass? Nothing much, <insert yawn> … unless you were me! When I heard the Crucifixus et Resurrexit, I was dumbfounded and enchanted. That day I fell in love with “classical” music. Though I had been taking piano lessons, it was all about pop music and playing off of lead sheets. Soon enough my demands out-stripped my teacher. My grandmother happen to hear a pianist performing on TV (Victor de Diego) and she learned that his teacher was Arminda Schutte (who had studied with the eminent Josef Lhévinne), located in Miami about 100 miles away, and whom they remembered from Cuba. An appointment was made and I presented with some of the self-taught Grieg Concerto for an audition. I was accepted and then began my real introduction to playing the piano. Back to square one: how to sit, how to move the entire playing apparatus, “Close your mouth,” “Don’t curl that 5th finger under when it’s not playing,” “Lower your wrist,” “Lift the hand from the wrist,” this was horrible … and I loved every minute of it! Lessons were long and included theory and solfège too. I advanced rapidly and played Mozart on local television, and as a senior even composed a work for chorus and piano that won the state competition and was premièred at the following All-State Festival. I studied with Arminda through college too for a BM in music. She sent me off to her colleague Santos Ojeda in Cincinnati (who was also Cuban-born and had studied with Rosina Lhévinne) in order to keep the school of technique the same. I earned the MM there and additionally took a year each of orchestral and choral conducting. Now in Miami I began teaching at Miami-Dade Community College and directed the orchestra. Two years later it was back to Cincinnati for work on the Doctor of Musical Arts degree studying with Richard (Dick) Morris, a cognate in Theory Pedagogy, teaching assistantship, and authored a new method for learning C-clefs with application for transposition-at-sight and taught a course for both graduate and undergraduate students with same. Having finished all course work, one solo recital and several other components, I was ready to finish-up long distance while I returned to work in Miami. I added the New World School of the Arts to my teaching venues and performed on local radio, campuses and museums. Then a lot of life happened: I didn’t finish my DMA, we moved away to never suffer another Hurricane (Andrew), I began teaching as adjunct at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, not enough work, need to find work (did I mention I was married and the father of two beautiful boys?) … The following is too complicated to explain: I left academia (very painful) and was hired to work for the US Army in matters of GPS, had a Secret-Level clearance and authored the US Army Aviation Global Positioning System Integration Guide for the Blackhawk and Chinook helicopter fleets. Five years later, when the base where I worked was closed for disbursement (realignment) I decided not to move but to consider my options. Here again too complicated to explain: in ten years I had become a physician. I am now a board-certified Family Practice doctor. At age 52 I have begun a rebirth of my piano playing and feel 25 again! I intend to present a formal recital each year locally. I think my stethoscope will be my stage trademark (not a candelabra). I enjoy pretty much all styles and eras (Including from PDQ Bach to George Crumb) but accept the dodecaphonic style only in very small doses. My piano is a Baldwin SF-10 (7' Artist Grand), like it's bigger brother the SD-10 it has the finest (IMO) piano action in the world, the Renner action. If I had to live with the works of only one composer, it would have to be ... you guessed it, J.S. Bach!