Music in the parish of the Resurrection, St Andrew & St Mark
Director of Music and Organist
Rafael de Castro resides in Montreal, Canada, where the offer of a McGill Teaching fellowship brought him in the 1970’s to work on his Master’s degree. He received his Bachelor’s degree from the Universidad de las Americas in Mexico City. He then attended the Conservatoire de Musique de Montreal where he completed his Concours in the class of Bernard Lagacé. Another year led to his Quebec teacher certification. For over three decades he served as music teacher, band director, department head and finally Head of the Fine Arts program at Centennial School in the Montreal region. During that time, he directed various ensembles performing many concerts locally, nationally and also internationally on tours to the US and Bermuda. He is the recipient of many awards from the Riverside School Board, Centennial School as well as from the students themselves. Concurrently with his music teaching, he has held positions as organist and choir director most recently at Church of the Resurrection and before that at St. Paul’s, Lachine. Mr. de Castro has attended European master classes in Spanish organ repertoire given by Montserrat Torrent and Guy Bovet as well as music courses at the Universidad de Salamanca, Spain. He has also attended master classes given by Fernando Germani, Marie-Claire Alain, William Porter and James David Christie. He has played concerts in all of the Americas, Europe and South Africa. He first appeared in the Morelia, Mexico, Organ Festival in 1970 and was invited again to play a memorial concert in honour of the organizing founder of the Festival two summer’s ago. A CD of Baroque organ music on the Zwolle, Holland Schnitger organ will be released soon. This is to be followed by a release of Spanish organ music recorded on two Spanish instruments in Mallorca, Spain. Mr. de Castro has given lectures and written several articles for publication, including Organ Canada. On September 23rd at 3:30PM, you can hear him in recital at St. Joseph’s Oratory playing the large five-manual Beckerath instrument. Upon his arrival in Montreal, Mr. de Castro became involved in the activities of the Royal Canadian College of Organists (RCCO), Montreal Centre, where he began as Secretary and was later elected Chairman/President on three separate occasions. At the national level, he held the position as Chairman of the National RCCO Organ Playing Competition for a period of ten years. Later, he took charge of the Public Relations portfolio. In 2014, he was elected Vice President of the National organization yet still remains Past President of the Montreal Centre. The organization provides certification for organists at various levels. So how did he become interested in playing the pipe organ? Classical music came to him via his father who was a violinist, composer and Assistant Conductor of the San Antonio Symphony orchestra. One day, he asked his son if he wanted to attend a rehearsal at nearby Trinity University where they would rehearse the Poulenc Organ Concerto (organ and full orchestra). Taking his homework from school along, expecting the usual stop/start of orchestral rehearsals, he was captivated by this huge console with so many buttons capable of such powerful sounds yet often very soft and delicate ones. From that moment onward there was no turning back. Although he had heard his Dad playing the violin daily, he was never interested in that instrument. In his spare time, he loves to cook, read and you might see him skimming along the Saint Lawrence in his 14’ red kayak. His wife is Director of Music at Mountainside United Church in Westmount and their daughter lives in Ottawa working in Medical Records at the Ottawa Civic and the Queensway Carlton hospitals. Careful, she has a third level (Dan) Black Belt in Taekwondo. Although, the church merger has recently been in effect, I have been so very pleased at how well the combined choirs work together. Each week, a new anthem is prepared taking into consideration a variety of musical styles. The camaraderie is wonderful because they all like to sing and are a delight to instruct. They catch on so quickly. I can hardly wait until Christmas! (my most favourite season). P.S. If you like to sing, please speak to Rafael.
Our pipe organ was recently upgraded, adding four stops and other significant improvements to an already excellent instrument. The organ was built and installed in 1959 by Casavant Frères, which was established in 1879 and is the oldest continuous name in North American organ building. The restoration was done by Orgues Létourneau, of St. Hyacinthe.