Guilherme Moraes      cello fellow

Guilherme grew up in São Paulo and attended the inaugural Ilumina Festival, where he met Giovanni Gnocchi, professor at the University Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. With the support of Giovanni, Guilherme auditioned in summer 2015, and was one of the highest ranked applicants of his year. He is now a first year Bachelor’s degree student at the Mozarteum and is doing his best to adapt to the cold weather.

“Finding your path as a classical musician in Brazil is – we all know – no easy task. Doing so as a chamber musician is even more complicated. Yet, there is no way we can change this scenario without encouragement, and that’s where Ilumina comes in, being one of the few festivals (if not the only one) in the country dedicated to this genre. Through Ilumina, I found even more inspiration to follow my path, and I believe I am not the only one.

Now, more than a year after my first fellowship, I can realize even more clearly how being part of this community was a watershed for me. The work of the soloists, their sensitivity and dedication to the fellows changed my conception not only of music, but – why not? – of the world, and it was during the festival that I gradually began to understand how important the work we do there is: Hard, arduous, but invaluable work.

 It was there that I met my current teacher at the Unversität Mozarteum, Giovanni Gnocchi, an exceptional musician and a tremendous inspiration. I am sure that all of us fellows find in the soloists a lead to be followed, an ideal of sound, of life, of technique – something we know we can’t find that often in Brazil.

 Ilumina is important for me not only because it opens doors, but because it taught me the way to them, and had me understand what to do after I reach them. It is important because it brings musicians from not very favorable backgrounds to a place they wouldn’t be able to reach on their own. It is important because it creates better musicians, better human beings, better talents, better futures, better opportunities – and that is what the world needs.”

Nathan Amaral    violin fellow

Nathan grew up in the Mangueira favela in Rio. He gained admittance to the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro at 16, and later moved to work in the academy of the Orchestra of the State of São Paulo.  He is currently preparing for auditions in Europe, where a number of acclaimed professors have invited him to apply.

You know, I didn’t expect that I would be a violinist or start to learn music because I live in a favela in Rio de Janeiro, a community of poor people, and there aren’t many opportunities to study. One day, a complete stranger knocked on our door and asked me - “Do you want to play the violin?” Just like that. And I thought, wow, God gave me an opportunity to study violin. I’d never even heard of the violin before. He was from a social project that was starting with children in the community from the favela, and he was searching for children in the streets.

At first I was like, no, I don’t want to do that, I think it’s for girls! But then my mother said, you should try it because it’s free, so you should just go and see if you like it, and if you don’t like it, then okay. So at first I just tried it for one week and then I kept going… and now I’m here.  I was twelve when I started so I have always tried my best, and practiced twice as hard to make up for lost time.

I heard about this festival from my friends who came here last year. The feeling of the festival, the people, there are many great fellows – I think it’s the best in Brazil. It’s very special. Not just because of the fellows, who are good and we play together, but also because the international artists don’t think that they are more important than us, it’s everybody learning together. It’s amazing, I mean, we can talk to Giovanni, Jennifer, Sacha as friends, not only “Oh, you’re important, I cannot talk to you outside of work, of rehearsal”. But we lunch together, we have dinner together, we do everything together.”

Davi Ciriaco   double bass fellow

Davi comes from the São Mateus community in São Paulo. He plans to move to Philadelphia to study with Joseph Conyers, who he met at Ilumina.

Ilumina for me has been a big revelation about who I want to be, what I want to bring to society and what I want to do as a professional musician as well. When I started learning music at a social project I realized I really needed to dedicate myself to the instrument; It can’t just be for fun. And the teachers there showed me that I had opportunities.

But once I got here and saw what music can do to people and what you can be as a musician. That gave me the certainty that this is what I want to do. We had a talk yesterday and it was really important – that a musician needs to know about everything, not just how to play their instrument.  You need to know about everything around you, because otherwise you won’t be the best musician you can be. And now I’m looking for that, every day. It makes my music richer. From the musicians here, I can see clearly the detail that is so important to our lives, and how we can give a great contribution to our society.

Joseph [Conyers] always makes me think because he’s so deep with his ideas and his music, and if he didn’t say things the way he says them I would never be able to imagine them. It is a great world to discover, and it makes me see how I want to be in the future as a professor: to show my students more than what is just written on the page.”