It may not always occur to students, busy managing their own academic demands along with family and job pressures, that those who teach them are often themselves juggling a variety of professional endeavors which reach far beyond their classrooms. In the case of Hamilton Tescarollo, a member of the IPFW faculty since 2007, his efforts as a teacher to students of piano and keyboards represent just a part of his duties and creative energies. His upcoming recital, in which he performs the works of Bach, Liszt and Mozart, is an annual opportunity to share his own extraordinary talents with his students as well as the IPFW and Fort Wayne community. When Tescarollo first began playing in his native Brazil (the country in South America, not the city in Indiana), he likely had no idea what or where IPFW was. He was young enough when he began to play that he mostly relies on his parents for anecdotal evidence of his interest.
“I have two older sisters, and one of them was taking piano lessons. My parents told me that I asked to take them too, so I began when I was about seven years old. I don’t really remember those first few years, but I do know we didn’t have a piano at the time, so I had to go to my neighbor’s house to practice. I remember thinking that I so much wanted a piano in our house, and when we got it, it was really an important thing. I always knew my desire to play was something very strong for me. I really loved it.”
There was no question in his mind that he would study music in college, and he says his parents were always supportive of his plan. He studied in Brazil, earning honors in competitions before leaving for Arizona State University to work on his graduate degree. While there he taught and, upon earning his Ph.D., served as both associate and visiting faculty for the next few years. In 2007, he came to interview for a full-time position at IPFW.
“My predecessor, Masson Robertson, had been at IPFW for 38 years, and I met him when I came in to interview. It was a great opportunity, and there was tremendous growth in the department and the piano program. At the time I came to interview there was also this new building under construction, so they gave me a hard hat and showed it to me. It was a very exciting time to be coming to the university, to see that progress and know I could be part of a collegial, supportive environment.”
He was also happy to become part of a community which he quickly realized valued the arts.
“When I first visited the area, I saw so many exciting things. Fort Wayne’s not a huge city, but it has so much culture to offer. There’s a wonderful Philharmonic, ballet, theatre, museums. It’s great to be in a city that values the arts.”
Tescarollo enjoys sharing his passion for music with his students at IPFW and relishes the progress they make. He also finds his own skills are sharpened from the effort he makes in communicating with them.
“The most gratifying part of teaching is seeing students grow from one point to another. No matter what their starting point is, there is always progress. The process is really what it’s all about, being able to improve their own playing from a rough style to something that really communicates on a deep level to whoever is listening. That process is a beautiful thing, and you discover things about yourself when you explain a concept or a way of doing something; you may think of things in a new way because you’ve had to explain it in a way maybe you hadn’t even thought of it before. The teaching and performance really do complement each other. I wouldn’t be happy doing just one or the other.”
Even during his nine-month teaching schedule, Tescarollo finds time to perform not only at his faculty recital but also at a recent visit to his alma mater, Arizona State, where he performed, taught a master class and served as adjudicator for a competition. During the summer, he often performs all over the world, in solo concerts and as part of a duo with cellist Carlos Audi.
“Carlos and I played together many times when we were young in Brazil. He’s now in Florida with a family, and I’m here in Fort Wayne, but we always wanted to put together a recital of Brazilian music. We put together the music of three Brazilian composers for cello and piano, and we’ve also premiered a composition, ‘Confluences,’ written by one of my colleagues at IPFW, Chris Rutkowski.
“I also perform my solo concerts, and I feel like both the solo work and collaborations really complement each other, often in the same ways that teaching enhances my playing. The same communication takes place, and that exchange of ideas provides a learning process because you have to work together and learn to listen. When you work with a group or ensemble, it’s not just you working on your piece. You have to know if you’re following or leading and find that give and take with the ensemble.”
Among his many honors over the years, Tescarollo claimed the top prizes at soloist and piano competitions and was one of three finalists at the 1991 National Mozart Competition in Brazil. In addition to his acclaim as a performer, he was also awarded “Teacher of the Year” honors at the 2001 Schimmel-AZ Piano Young Artist Piano Competition. His growing credits and honors are matched by those of his students, underscoring the dedication he has shown to both aspects of his career over the years. Having performed on several continents in the past few years, Tescarollo is beginning to make plans to continue with the Audi-Tescarollo Duo and with his solo work as summer 2014 approaches. His growing list of accomplishments as a teacher, academic, performer and recording artist does not mean he plans to rest on his laurels, always finding new ways to explore the piano and the sounds and music it can create.