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Eddy del Rio

(Born an American citizen in Havana, Cuba, in 1958). What happens when you bring junior high school kids in to an assembly to listen to a recording of J.S. Bach’s B-Minor Mass? Nothing much, <insert yawn> … unless you were Eddy del Rio! When he heard the “Crucifixus et Resurrexit”, he was dumbfounded and enchanted. That day he fell in love with “classical” music. Though at the time he had been taking piano lessons, these were all about pop music and playing off of lead-sheets. Soon enough his demands out-stripped his teacher’s abilities. His grandparents happened by chance to hear a pianist performing on TV (Victor de Diego) and they learned that his teacher, located in Miami about 100 miles away, was Arminda Schutte (a Cuban concert artist and pedagogue who had studied with the eminent Josef Lhévinne, and whom they remembered from Cuba). An appointment was made and Eddy presented with some of the self-taught Grieg Concerto for an audition. He was accepted, and thus began his real introduction to playing the piano. Back to square one: how to sit, how to move the 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 he loved every minute of it! Lessons were long and included theory and solfège. He advanced rapidly and as a senior in high school played Mozart on local television and composed a work for chorus and piano that won the state competition and was premièred at the following All-State Festival. He studied with Madame Schutte through college also, earning a BM in Piano Performance. She sent him afterwards for graduate work to her colleague Santos Ojeda at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (who was also Cuban-born and had studied with Rosina Lhévinne). There he earned the MM in Piano Performance and took a year each of orchestral and choral conducting. Having afterwards returned to Miami, Florida, he began teaching at Miami-Dade Community College and directed the college-community orchestra. Two years later he returned to Cincinnati for work on the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance and Literature, studying with Richard (Dick) Morris. His doctoral cognate area was in Theory Pedagogy. He was awarded a teaching assistantship and a Fellowship, and during his first summer authored a new method for learning C-clefs with application for transposition-at-sight, and later taught a course for both graduate and undergraduate students in the conservatory with same. Having finished all course work, one solo recital and several other terminal components, he returned to work in Miami, Florida and intended to continue completing his DMA long distance. He added the distinguished New World School of the Arts to his teaching venues and performed on local radio, campuses and museums. The following several years were spent in musical efforts and enjoying his young family but his DMA was not completed. The family suffered through Hurricane Andrew (1992), living at “ground zero” in Homestead, Florida. The following year Eddy and his family moved to Illinois and he began teaching as an adjunct professor at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Through a strange turn of events Mr. del Rio left academia and was hired to work for the US Army in matters of GPS. He held a Secret-Level clearance and authored the “US Army Aviation Global Positioning System Integration Guide” for the Blackhawk and Chinook helicopter fleets and prepared other deliverables to the US government. Five years later, when the Army base where he worked was closed for disbursement (realignment), he decided not to move but to consider his options. In ten years he had become a physician. He is now a board-certified Family Practice physician. At age 52 (in 2010) he began a rebirth of his piano playing after a hiatus of more than two decades, and intends to present a formal recital each year. A stethoscope is more likely his stage trademark than a candelabrum. Dr. del Rio is eclectic regarding styles and eras of music he enjoys and performs (including from PDQ Bach to George Crumb) but accepts the dodecaphonic style only in small doses. If required to live with the works of only one composer, Dr. del Rio states, “It would have to be J.S. Bach.”

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