American Pianists finalist Esteban Castro will perform in Indianapolis

Jazz pianist Esteban Castro wants to take the audience on a journey when he is on stage — to create one thing they’ve by no means heard that still feels relatable.

“I think there’s a balance between playing for yourself and enjoying also for individuals,” Castro mentioned. “I suppose there’s an intersection between the two, and I try to reach that every time I can.”

Indianapolis audiences will have the power to see for themselves Saturday. Castro is considered one of 5 finalists for the 2023 American Pianists Awards, which is predicated in the Circle City. For the current spherical of the competitors, he’ll perform at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Jazz Kitchen, 5377 N. College Ave. Tickets are $20-$40. All 5 will return to Indianapolis for the final round in April.

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To this level, Castro, 20, already has had plenty of apply connecting with listeners. He gained first prize in the 2016 Montreux Jazz Piano Solo Competition and 2017 Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition in addition to a number of classical competitions. He’s currently a student on the Juilliard School.

Castro, who’s from Hackensack, New Jersey, began classes after his mother and father saw him take to a toy piano as a baby. He began to compose his personal classical works. When he started to improvise, a trainer advised he strive jazz. So he started to check it — and mentioned he discovered himself in a more healthy headspace while doing so.

“I love improvisation. I love the liberty that it gives me as the performer,” he mentioned. “A lot of time after I’m enjoying classical, particularly solo piano classical music, I begin feeling like, ‘I don’t wish to make a mistake right here. I don’t wish to mess up’ somewhat than being in the second and taking half in the music for what it is.”

The pianist nonetheless practices and listens to classical music, however he now focuses on jazz. Castro also composes. He was commissioned for an arrangement by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for its Thelonious Monk celebration in 2018.

Among his influences are pianist Bud Powell — especially what Castro says is his clear sense of melody — and Art Tatum’s “20th Century Piano Genius.” As far as requirements go, the pianist is currently enjoying exploring Benny Golson’s “Stablemates.”

“Stablemates is type of a very common jazz session tune,” he said. “I suppose there’s so much in the tune that is really lovely, and I assume that there is a lot to be discovered within the tune.”

For tickets and extra info on Saturday’s exhibits, go to

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Contact IndyStar reporter Domenica Bongiovanni at 317-444-7339 or [email protected] Follow her on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @domenicareports.

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