Latvian Brazilian organist Dr. Cristiano Rizzotto Vidal Pessôa received a doctorate from the University of Oklahoma, a Master of Music from East Carolina University, and a Bachelor’s degree from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro.
Cristiano studied piano under Dr. Miriam Grosman, graduating from the Bachelor’s degree program in Piano Performance in 2010, Magna cum Laude. Rizzotto performed as a concert pianist in several solo recitals and as a piano accompanist in several cities and states of Brazil since 2007 and 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. In December 2008 Rizzotto 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 ECU in August 2011 for the Master’s degree program in Sacred Music/Organ (MM), and also started playing for the First United Methodist Church in Washington, NC, at that time. The 11 AM Service was broadcast live each Sunday on 98.9 FM, WNBR. Cristiano graduated 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 holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree (DMA) from The American Organ Institute at the University of Oklahoma, where he studied under Dr. John Schwandt, and was Director of Music and Organist at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church in Duncan, OK, between August 2013 and July 2016. Dr. Rizzotto is currently the Organist & Choirmaster at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Golden Valley, MN, and 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 and was named a member of The Diapason‘s 20 Under 30 Class of 2017.
Dr. 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), Antoine Giovannini, Titular Organist at L’église Saint Vincent de Nay (France), and Robert Farrell have dedicated pieces to him.
Cristiano and Clara Rizzotto married in Alaska in 2015 and are now the proud parents of Kristian Walter, born in June 2017.