Armando Castellano / Quinteto Latino
French horn, Director
San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Tell us about your work.
I’m a musician in and Director of a wind quintet (flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, and bassoon) that advocates for classical music by Latino composers via performance & education. We not only do traditional concertizing and touring, but we work hard with presenters that serve diverse communities. Via the quintet, I have also spent the last 15 years working as a bilingual teaching artist in Spanish language schools and communities. I am a tireless advocate for access both for quality arts (in communities not traditionally served), as well as, issues around diversity and classical music.
How old were you when you knew you wanted to be an artist, and where were you?
I started playing the trumpet when I was in the 4th grade and the French horn when I was in the
9th grade. Music was my best subject in school, it was the one thing I really excelled at. I knew I wanted to be a French horn player for good on the day I first saw a person of color playing the French horn! I was 17 and he was the associate principal of the New York Philharmonic playing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Jerome Ashby. I later went on to study with him in graduate school. This is why I want to be on stage, performing for kids, especially kids of color, who can hear music performed by musicians that look and speak like them.
"If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?"
I would bring my wife with me because there is no one else in the world I would rather spend time with. If I could, I would also bring...
- A machete: to crack open the coconuts and help chop firewood
- My French horn: to keep our lives filled with music and to entertain any monkeys that dropped by our camp.
What is the best advice you’ve gotten from your mentor or a WAA Member?
The most memorable advice I have gotten is from Lindsey Nelson. He said that when attending WAA conferences I should go to as many events and workshops as possible, I should always raise my hand with a question and, if I have an answer, offer responses. This has been very fruitful as a tactic to open conversations and get my product out there, thanks Lindsey!
“This is why I want to be on stage, performing for kids, especially kids of color, who can hear music performed by musicians that look and speak like them.”
Name an artist you’d love to meet and why?
I always wanted to meet the Cuban singer Celia Cruz. She was such an incredible artist, had an amazing personality, and was full of so much showmanship. I idealize her as a representative of all that is wonderful and beautiful about Latin American music, culture and art!
“If I weren’t doing this I’d…”
If I weren’t doing this I have several things I think I could do instead. I could easily be a classroom teacher. I am a good teacher and I love doing it. My favorite grades to teach are first through third grade. I also think I would be a great nonprofit executive (running an organization that serves the Latino community). I have always wanted to be a programming officer at a foundation as I have been involved with philanthropy for the last 15 years via my family’s foundation.
What are your 3 goals for 2016?
My 3 goals for 2016 are to continue to grow and expand Quinteto Latino’s programming, to go through a strategic planning process and write at least one grant every month.
What are you working on now?
I have been working hard right now on solidifying performance dates for 2016/17 and updating our marketing materials: video, website, and all associated creative content. It’s a big job!