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September 24, 2018
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USA: Pianist Tomáš Kačo performs solo at Carnegie Hall - "There is no box for this music"

26.2.2018 6:55
Tomáš Kačo  (PHOTO: Archive)
Tomáš Kačo (PHOTO: Archive)

The pianist Tomáš Kačo is one of 12 siblings from a very modest background who has worked his way up through self-instruction to become one of the best jazz piano students at the prestigious Berklee College in Boston, of which he is a graduate. On 22 February yet another dream of his came true - performing at the legendary Carnegie Hall in New York.

The solo concert was subtitled "Gypsy Soul". Czech Radio's Radiožurnál station reported on the preparations for the gifted pianist's concert directly from New York.

"It was an out-of-tune, old, broken-down upright piano we had at home. I remember that Dad used lipstick to mark the A keys, that was my orientation point. Everybody learns in music school that the first note to focus on is C, but my Dad taught me that the first note I had to recognize is A. That was the first note I learned," the pianist recalled for Radiožurnál when asked how he began to play music in his home town of Nový Jičín, Czech Republic.

An article on the radio station's website reports that: "Tomáš Kačo supported his own gifts through hard work and sheer will and after succeeding in Prague decided to take the next step, even though at that moment he did not have any money. He passed the entrance examinations to go to school in Boston and, with the support of Professor Noemi Zárubová and financial aid from Czech patrons, he got his American chance to be in a world that facilitated his musical development to an extent he had never dreamed possible, one that perceives his Romani origin to be an advantage, an interesting distinction, and a world that is now giving him the space to perform in a famous concert hall."

In a previous interview for Czech Radio, Kačo described how strikingly different the approach to diversity is in the "West". "When I explained to my fellow pupils that I am Romani, it seemed brilliant to them. They said they also wanted to be 'gypsy'. Out in the world I understood that 'different' means interesting, not bad," he said of his experiences studying in Boston.

"It would not be fair to say that I represent Romani music, or the Czech Republic. Those things... that boxes you in. I am going to Carnegie to represent myself. I will play music that is not Romani, not Czech, not classical and not jazz. In my opinion, there is no box for this music. It's basically open, any listener can take what he or she wants from it," the young musician says.

Jitka Votavová, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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