Today we’d like to introduce you to Amaro Dubois.
Hi Amaro, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
My name is Amaro Dubois. I am from Brazil. I started playing the violin when I was 6 years old in a small town called Campos dos Goytacazes in Rio de Janeiro, BR.
I started being interested in playing the violin because of cartoons I used to watch; those good old cartoons where the woodpecker would play the violin while walking around were my favorite to watch. So, I got interested and asked my parents about it. It is important to say that I wasn’t a very calm kid, so my parents were just like; let’s try this and see if he can settle that energy down a bit.
Well, it didn’t work much, as I got really excited with the violin and it pumped me even more. But, in a positive way, I started young seeing the violin just as a toy. However, going to the string program through a nonprofit organization in Brazil, was not very easy but I could have the opportunity to be very familiar with music in all forms such as orchestras, quartets, etc.
At the age of 10, I remember that I was really into the idea of playing the violin. I had kind of decided that I wanted to do it for good. Like I wanted to really play it. That was how we thought it would be. Just go and play it for the rest of your life. I had no idea It would be a profession or something that would be my job for real. Wow, little did I know.
Later on, I won some prizes in competitions in my town and at the school of music in Rio. At age of 15, I was pretty sure that I loved the violin and that music would certainly be in my life. I started then having lessons with more important professionals at that time and started preparing for the technical exams of music in the Brazilian Conservatory of Music in Rio de Janeiro.
After some years of study, exams, auditions, and more. At 18, I won first prize in the Talent Competition in the school of music; also passed all my exams and started now working in the same organization where I was a student.
It was a very important moment for me and my career. I taught and performed with students, masterclasses, concerts out of town, and so many activities we had.
After graduating from High School, I went for my bachelor’s degree in Music Performance. Big moving to the city center, straight to the heart of Rio to start my first year of Undergraduate degree. Good to remember that in the middle of all this, I decided to ask my best friend and first girlfriend for her hand to marry me. Yeah, we got married after dating for 10 years, engaged for 1…
I had the opportunity to perform for so many important names in the classical music world and be around personalities that inspired me so much to be who I am today. In Rio de Janeiro, while pursuing my undergraduate degree, I won an audition to work with the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra. After many hours of dedication and classes, I graduated in 2015 from the Brazilian Conservatory of Music with two degrees, Bachelor’s in Violin Performance and a Chamber Music Performance degree.
Shortly after I graduated, I was invited to come to further my studies in the United State of America. That was a huge thing for me and my wife as we have never thought of moving out of Brazil. We had no English (not even basics), knowing nothing, absolutely anything. It was a scary moment and a happy moment all at once. We had a month to decide and we did. We came and arrived in August of 2015. It was an adventure and a huge challenge for us.
We went to live in Kentucky where I first started learning some English and having lessons to prepare for my degree course. Good to remember that I was mostly playing the violin at that time and little did I know I was going to change things in my life. After a short time in Kentucky, I met some professors that offer opportunities to study with them.
I moved to Louisville and started devoting my time to learning English and a new instrument, now we talking about the Viola. A professor in Louisville told me about the viola and asked me to try it out. So I did and I loved it. I had always loved the tone of the viola. The viola is not very different from the violin but it is bigger and wider, the strings are thicker, and the position of your fingers is a little bit different as well.
It has a deep tone, more on the lower side of sound, and that caught my heart for this instrument. But in Brazil, I didn’t have time to experiment with others instruments as I had to work and study and much more to make it.
My wife and I struggle quite a bit with some financial issues and documentation after arriving in the USA, which is a big deal for all of us who come from another country to the USA to have better opportunities and life. In the middle of all of this, I started learning a new instrument, with different techniques and challenges and I had to learn it quickly while improving my English skills in order to get to graduate school for a viola performance degree.
I changed my mind to start playing the viola a few months before auditions, so now we are in 2016 and auditions are coming up for the next year. There are so many struggles with English and the pressure to be good at viola. My wife Fernanda and I started traveling for auditions and had quite a few nights without sleeping. After all, I applied to many schools and got into all of them.
We decided to go to Alabama, to The University of Alabama. I was offered a very generous assistantship to further my studies there and also to sharpen my English; which was a very challenging thing. I had to learn the language in the level graduate school in about 3 months, then pass the final exam for each category (speaking, reading, writing, Grammar) so I could join the school of music and graduate.
During my time at UA, which began in January of 2017, I had the opportunity to audition for many orchestras around the mid-south. I was fortunate to have passed many auditions then I started performing with them. At that time, I was traveling to perform with the Pensacola Symphony in Florida, Mobile Symphony in Alabama, Paducah Symphony in Kentucky, and more. The time in Alabama was a very rewarding and challenging time, and Fernanda and I learned a lot from that experience.
In 2019, the year of my graduation (master in viola performance), was a very intense year with travels, great opportunities to play, recitals, and my son Levi was born on April 12 of that same year and in the same week of my graduation Recital, so all of that was very intense but beautiful. Also, in the same week with all of that happening, I received the news that I had passed my audition for a job opportunity with Iris Orchestra in Memphis, TN. What a month April of 2019 was!
We moved to Memphis in July of 2019, very hot weather! Wow! I was offered to be the Iris Orchestra Fellow under the mentorship of Michael Stern. Part of my job was to work with iris as performing concerts with the orchestra throughout the season and also perform in the community through outreach concerts. I also worked for MMI (Memphis Music Initiative) as part of my job with Iris.
I stayed with the fellowship for two seasons finishing my time as a fellow in 2021. Still, on the roster, I had the opportunity to be invited and continue to perform with Iris Orchestra since then. Moreover, with MMI, I had the pleasure to continue working and developing my passion for teaching. I became an MMI Artist and I assisted some of the Shelby County School teachers in their schools.
For the past 2 years, I have been co-teaching music with the singing department at Bellevue Middle School and Middle College High School. I had so many opportunities to improve myself as I teach and also as a performer.
Especially at Middle College, I had an amazing time assisting Ms. Johnson, the teacher there. Ms. Johnson has been a great support person in my career besides all the knowledge I have learned from her. In the past year, she got sick with cancer, and that was a very difficult moment.
But I was glad to be there and be able to step in for her to help and assume the class when she was out for treatment. I had a great time with the students, we prepared beautiful Christmas concerts, and spring concerts, performed for graduation, accepted invitations to perform for organizations, and more. The Middle College High School was very good to me. in a difficult moment, I could step in to teach them and learn way more about myself as well.
One of my greatest passion is sharing my love for the viola sound. I love to perform, I absolutely love to share and communicate through my instrument. During the pandemic, I started looking back at the list of things I always dreamed of and I realized that it was time for me to cross out some items on my 5 years goal. I started recording myself playing more, then I started sharing it on my social media platforms. During this time, I met the great pianist Tingting Yao. She was an accompaniment pianist at the University of Memphis at the time.
I talked with her briefly about some of my ideas and dreams of having a Duo and recording some compositions for social media in order to encourage and inspire people during the difficult times the pandemic brought to so many. She agreed with me and we started playing together. Only some rehearsals at the beginning and nothing too serious but I was wanting more. So we recorded the first composition and I posted it on my Instagram page. Success!
Got many positive messages and invitations to collaborate with pianists and friends from around the world through virtual concerts. It was a start! Shortly after that period, I had invitations coming to a collaborative work of recording an album. A label reached out and we put a plan together.
I decided to go all-in for this new idea of a recording project. the label loved our idea and interpretation and I got assigned with the Spice Classics Records in Boston to record my first album with my Duo, Dubois-Yao Duo. The album has a meaningful message; as I am also passionate about sharing the beauty of underrepresented composers such as African American, Latin American, and female composers.
My mission for this album is two-fold: to encourage musicianship through the beautiful and awe-inspiring music of these composers, and to increase diversity in classical music by programming new and often overlooked compositions for the viola repertoire.
My hope is that these compositions inspire others within and beyond the viola community to become more aware of the opportunity we have as artists to increase the representation of composers from under-represented racial, ethnic, cultural heritages, and gender backgrounds.
I got so many reviews and invitations for performances and all were so amazing that I could go places to share my passion through the music I love to perform on viola. With all of this, I got invited to record a new album, this time a solo album. I had a recording project on my list that is also part of my big dream moments. An album entirely for viola solo (unaccompanied) with new compositions by living composers underrepresented.
All compositions were written for me to premier in this magistral album. Boom! It was on! I started writing to composers and asked their opinions about the project and if they would be interested. I got so many wonderful responses and positive feedback. Was so happy and pumped that I was pulling off this big project. Well, the recording is ongoing, and the album is set to be released next spring of 2023.
I have the pleasure to work with composers from 5 different countries including Brazil, the USA, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Spain. All of them come from underrepresented heritage and female composers. However, this album, The Voice of Viola, will be an explosion of diversity and inclusion in the classical music industry, and it is to celebrate the beauty of minority artists and the meaningful impact they have on us, musicians. The recording is on, and I am very excited about it! One of the first pieces I recorded is by Judith Markovich.
She is a female composer based in Nashville who writes beautiful music and was the first to jump into the project with me and give me all the support I need. The piece she wrote for me is called A Call From The Woods, and the official trailer is now available on Youtube for everyone to appreciate. You don’t wanna miss it! (we are still looking for a label to embrace us in this adventure and new solo album), do you wanna help? Contact us, please!
Moreover, with my Duo partner, Tingting Yao, we are finishing our second album this coming week of June 2 & 3. This new album with my Duo is to celebrate love, peace, and compassion. The theme is Luz “light” for the English version. In this album, we will have two big world premiere works written for this project.
Composers Dimitri Cervo and Jose Elizondo are the featured composers among Villani-Cortes who wrote “Luz”, the theme of the album. Luz is all that we are in need of in the world nowadays. We need a little bit more Luz; a little bit more light to get to hope and be more kind to one another. That is my message with my music in all I do.
Throughout this period of recordings, I was able to perform in international competitions and won gold prizes at London Music Competition, king Peak Competition, and more. Also, I was invited to sign a contract with Vida Art Management for representation in Europe and the Middle East. With concerts coming up net session in Europe, I am very excited about sharing music composed for me all over the world.
Current news is that I have won a competition at the University of Georgia in Athens and was offered the prestigious Presidential Fellowship award to work at the ArtsLab on excited about recording projects and concerts, and more; I will be pursuing my DMA in Viola Performance while assigned with the University duties.
However, I always say: Never stop dreaming. From a small town in Brazil to the world, that is not all of what I dream about. That is why I never stop dreaming and that is also how I teach all my private students and encourage them to dream big, dream wild, do not be afraid of mistakes; allow themselves to try out things, experiment, and put themselves out of the comfort zone, never say you can’t do something.
My family and I are moving to Georgia at the end of July; also, a new baby is coming any time now! Yes! new baby! my little girl is coming maybe this next week, and all that I said above related to my commitments is still on.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has not been a smooth road, all to say. But we have managed it ok. The struggle is real for those who come from another country. We have to face so many little things to make it here.
The barrier to language learning is one but is rewarding when you get it. But I would say that the visa and documentation and the cost of all of that is one of the most significant struggles we all have. The documentation that the government implies for us to have is understandable. But the cost of it is unreal. Financially speaking, it is challenging all the way.
We are not allowed to work when we come, so if you don’t have the money, you can’t go, and if you come and the money is gone after a few months, things get scary. We managed it with my wife and me, but it was tough and took a lot of hard work.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am professional Violist and Violinist. I am a recording artist and I specialized in Viola and Violin performances. I have been fortunate to receive praises for my “utmost commitment and sensitivity to the composers’ diverse voices” (Fanfare Magazine), and I have become known for my work expanding and popularizing lesser-known repertoire for the viola through collaborative projects in Brazil and North America.
Recently, I have also collaborated with orchestras such as the Paducah and Pensacola Symphony Orchestras as well as the Iris Orchestra in Germantown-Memphis, TN, where I was awarded their Fellowship position under the guidance of music director and conductor Michael Stern for the 19-21 seasons. My recent recordings include the complete Preludes of the Cello Suites by Bach for Breve Classics, a comparison of the different introductions for each of the suites.
With my Dubois-Yao Duo partner pianist Tingting Yao, I have created programs highlighting the art and music of underrepresented composers of African American and Latin American descent, as well as female composers. I am very passionate about sharing my love for the viola sound as well as for the gorgeous lyrical repertoire not often played.
My mission is to share my gift and give voice to those compositions not yet well-represented in the viola repertoire.
In my recent album Adoration -Music of The Americas, I have been highlighted as “passionate and delicate as the music demands” (Textura Magazine), and my collaboration work is praised for its “poetically focused performance” (Gapplegate Classical: Modern Music Blog).
What matters most to you?
What matters the most is the value of communication through music. It is a powerful tool to reach, love, and heal people.
When it comes to performances, no matter how important it is, the ultimate goal for me is to touch my audience’s heart with the sound of my viola. We as artists need to keep in mind that people don’t only go to concerts to appreciate good music or a classical music culture experience; many in the audience are there seeking answers, hope, peace, and meaning for their life.
However, the matter isn’t how many notes and rhythms I got right but how many hearts I was able to touch through my performance and sound.
- Website: https://www.amarodubois.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amaroduboisviola/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amaroduboisviola
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCUnagOrK2u38WBbnDDBJOA
- Other: Buy My CDs or Listen to it: https://ffm.to/amaro | Artenza Magazine Artist interview: https://artenzza.com/amaro-dubois-interview/