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NOW BY PAZ DEL CASTILLO
Paz del Castillo
Paz del Castillo returns with a new album titled Now that confirms her status as one of Europe’s top solo pianists. She says the recording “is an affirmation, a tribute to the present, to everyday life.”
The music of del Castillo, who lives in her home country of Spain, has a unique vitality and underlying thoughtfulness. One of the best at creating moods, del Castillo brings sensitivity, gentle passion and soulfulness to her playing. She composes the music for her recordings, and her writing demonstrates her considerable background, training and studies in the world of traditional classical music. Stylistically she writes memorable melodies and explores them with several variations on the theme, and uses an active left hand to present entwining counter-melodies and other motifs juxtaposed against the original melody line.
Del Castillo’s Now (released through The Borderline Music label) -- and her earlier recordings Moods for Piano, Secrets (Secretos - In Concert) and Eleven Drops -- are available in CD format and as digital downloads internationally through a variety of online shopping sites including Amazon, iTunes, CDbaby, eMusic and many others. For more information about Paz del Castillo, go to www.pazdelcastillo dot com. Eleven Drops, her first recording to be marketed extensively globally, went Top 10 on the international Zone Music Reporter 100 Chart for contemporary instrumental music, and also made the ZMR list of the 100 Best Recordings for 2012 (from a group of more than 2,300 albums).
In December 2015 del Castillo will perform the music from Now in concert in Madrid, Spain. Throughout Europe, del Castillo has won numerous prestigious awards, performed at important concert halls, and studied at top music schools. In addition to her demanding career as a performer, composer and recording artist, she also teaches select students. Although primarily a solo performer on piano, del Castillo occasionally plays as part of a duo (either with a violinist or another pianist), a trio and a chamber orchestra. With a violinist, del Castillo has performed classical concerts in recent years featuring music by Bach, Chaconne, Mozart, Beethoven, Kreisler, Granados and Prokofiev. In addition, del Castillo’s first album was produced in California by renowned new age pianist Suzanne Ciani whom del Castillo also toured with in Spain.
Now opens with the piece “Unchain Me,” which Paz says “has a very special meaning. It is a message, a call to the infinite to release the chains on our minds, spirits or emotions. Sometimes you get caught in the chains of life and feel you cannot go on, that you can do nothing. The high notes I play are like a call to the world, to a better future.”
For the tune “Sobre el Cabo de Mar,” del Castillo was thinking about the ocean and the beach near where she lives in Spain. “To get to the ocean I walk through big meadows to these beautiful and stunning high-cliffs where the sea hits the rocks, and then down the cliffs to reach the sand. There is a small but beautiful cove called Cabo de Mar and from there you can see the beach. I love to sit at the top of the cliffs and breathe the sea air which my mother taught me to love. I also like to look off into the distance at the ocean’s seemingly infinite horizon. With this music it is like I am sitting there with the wind in my face, watching the beauty, enjoying this simple but great pleasure of life.”
The composition “Mother” is “a tribute to my mother, where I come from, who taught me what life is. Her example inspires me, protects me and guides me. With a thread of life she resists because she is strong, because she loves life.”
“Swinging With The Trees” was inspired by watching the trees on windy days. “There are many trees where I live -- eucalyptus, beech, apple, chestnut, ash and walnut -- and on windy days they move side-to-side all together as if it is choreography, swinging back-and-forth like a musical rhythm.”
“Hymn” is a very slow and stately progression or march. “It is a hymn to life, to humanity and to having a respect for life. There is such barbarity around us, the idea is to stop and realize the importance of our lives which is the most sacred thing there is.”
The music of “En el Aire” came from a dream del Castillo had in which “I saw myself floating above the people and the streets of the city where I lived.”
She explains that the tune “Painting Colors” is “a tribute to Impressionism, both music and painting, like the touches of colors of Debussy. It means to paint colors with piano notes, just close your eyes and paint your home, the air, the sea, anyone you know.”
The final piece on Now is “Tom,” a musical tribute to her dog. “He is big sheepdog, crude and clumsy, but also very noble. We have been together since he was a puppy, and although he is old now, he continues to play like when he was young which always draws a smile to my face. This music simulates the movement of his games and pranks.”
Paz, who was born in Madrid and raised in Valladolid, started her music studies at the age of seven. “When I was a child I remember listening to all kinds of music -- classical, Spanish, Sixties and Seventies. My mother had Frank Sinatra records, and my oldest sister had vinyl of Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Carpenters, James Taylor, Alan Parsons Project, The Bee Gees and Abba. Later I started buying my own records -- Culture Club, Aztec Camera, O.M.D., Simply Red and many others. My first classical album was Beethoven’s “3rd Piano Concerto” played by Aschkenazy. But I also discovered film music, soundtracks of great movies, and I started to love John Williams, Nino Rota, John Barry, Ennio Morricone and others. In the Nineties I began listening to Suzanne Ciani, George Winston, David Arkenstone and David Lanz as well as Celtic music.”
Del Castillo graduated from the Conservatory at Valladolid with a Music Professor (teaching) Degree specializing in piano. In recent years she became the founder and president of the European Piano Teachers Association (EPTA). After graduation, she traveled to England to attend the Dartington International School of Music where she studied under professor and pianist Stephen Kovacevich. She returned to Spain and graduated from the Conservatorio Superior de Musica Teresa Berganza - El Escorial in Madrid (high-level studies under professor Rosa M. Kucharski). At the National Youth Music Competition, del Castillo was a finalist her first year and the winner her second year as a composer and performer. Following a Masters Class with Argentinian professor and pianist Aquiles Delle-Vigne, she won a scholarship to study “technique and piano performance” with him at the Mozarteum Musik Akademmie in Salzburg, Austria, for a year. She won the Composition Award at the International Music Exchange Piano Competition which included traveling to North Wales to perform original material at the International Music Festival.
“I love books, art, paintings, architecture, sculpture and photography. I also love nature and taking long walks or gardening. I like to look at the beauty around me which gives me energy for life. I love animals, especially my dog. I enjoy cooking Spanish food, Mediterranean dishes and desserts. I like to go to hear concerts at small places like jazz clubs or piano bars. I go out with my friends to eat tapas and drink wine, or sometimes we simply get a coffee and talk,” says del Castillo.
“I firmly believe in the power of love and trying to understand what others feel. I hate lies, ingratitude, dishonesty, falsehoods, injustice and suffering. We have to fight it the best we can. One way is to use music. If you choose to be a musician, you have the responsibility to study music as a complex and complete art, to prepare and work hard, and to make music the best you can for others to enjoy.”