The Latvian Brazilian organist Cristiano Rizzotto Vidal Pessôa holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), where he graduated in 2010, Magna cum Laude. There, he studied piano with Dr. Miriam Grosman and performed as a concert pianist in several solo recitals and as a piano accompanist in several cities and states of Brazil since 2007. He was awarded second place at the XVIII ArtLivre National Piano Competition.
Years before the first organ lessons with Dr. Alexandre Rachid, in order to do something about the complete absence of music during the service in the church to which he attended, and having always been passionate and interested in playing what he considers to be the authentic liturgical instrument, Cristiano decided to volunteer as an organist at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Lagoa since 2007. On December 2008, he became organist at Our Lady of Glory Catholic Church in Largo do Machado. He was later an exchange student in the USA (East Carolina University), in the Fall semester of 2009, sponsored by the Brazilian Ministry of Education.
Once back in Rio to graduate, he was nominated the organist of the city’s Benedictine Abbey, owner of one of the oldest organs in South America and where the Carioca monks have kept the tradition of the chants and liturgy alive since the 16th century. Cristiano developed his technique and understanding of the instrument and its use in church enormously in his time in the USA and in the Monastery, and he wished to continue this fruitful learning and developing work in this country, under the instruction of Andrew Scanlon, Instructor in Organ at East Carolina University.
He returned to the USA in August 2011 for the Master’s Degree in Sacred Music/Organ, and he has also started playing for the First United Methodist Church in Washington, NC, at that time. The 11 AM Service is broadcast live each Sunday on 98.9 FM, WNBR. Cristiano earned his master’s degree from ECU in May 2013.
Cristiano was awarded the Richard VanSciver Church Music Scholarship on a competition promoted by the Metropolitan Music Ministries in Charlotte, NC, on March 2012. He was also awarded the Ona and E. Franck Ruble Scholarship from the United Methodist Church.
Cristiano achieved the Service Playing Certificate from the American Guild of Organists in June 2012, becoming a Certified Guild Member. A Celebration for Certified Guild Members was held by the AGO National Committee on Professional Certification (Kathleen Thomerson, director) on the AGO National Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, on July 4, 2012.
His functions as a Graduate Assistant at ECU nominated him the piano & organ accompanist of the St. Cecilia Singers choir, accompanist for the Vocal Department, and a Recording Tech for the Fletcher Music Center, which included recording and editing concerts on CD and DVD, and live broadcasting them online. In 2012, he became a member of the ECU Chamber Singers, which toured the state of North Carolina on Spring 2012.
Cristiano was admitted to the following institutions, for the Fall 2013 term:
University of Michigan – Doctor of Musical Arts in Liturgical, Church, and Synagogue Music;
University of Oklahoma – Doctor of Musical Arts in Organ Performance;
University of Iowa – Doctor of Musical Arts in Organ Performance;
University of Arizona – Doctor of Musical Arts in Organ Performance;
University of Southern California – Doctor of Musical Arts in Organ Performance;
Boston University – Doctor of Musical Arts in Historical Performance;
Longy School of Music of Bard College in Boston – Graduate Performance Diploma.
Cristiano is currently a doctoral candidate at The American Organ Institute at the University of Oklahoma, under Dr. John Schwandt, and is the Organist & Choirmaster at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Golden Valley, MN. He is the Director of the Good Shepherd International Concert Series. He became a published composer after his Toccata was released by Wayne Leupold Editions in March 2014.
Rizzotto was named a member of The Diapason‘s 20 Under 30 Class of 2017. He was the Director of Music and Organist at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church in Duncan, OK, between August 2013 and July 2016.
Rizzotto is an active recitalist who frequently premières and performs the works of contemporary composers. Composers such as Carson Cooman, Composer in Residence at Harvard University, Aivars Kalējs, Organist at Rīgas Doms Cathedral in Rīga (Latvia), and Antoine Giovannini, Titular Organist at L’église Saint Vincent de Nay (France), have dedicated pieces to him.
Cristiano’s current goals are to continue to develop his skills as a church and concert musician in the United States; to use the knowledge obtained to cooperate with the resurrection and development of the organ culture in Brazil; to represent and bring awareness to Latvia and Brazil through his work abroad; to establish a stronger dialogue between professional organists of the international scenery and the United States of America; and contribute to the American musical and liturgical scenery.