"Guilherme Moraes, in a rehearsal at Masp: first place among worldwide contestants 

"Guilherme Moraes, in a rehearsal at Masp: first place among worldwide contestants 

Music

Virtuoso of Perus

After earning a prize of 60.000 reais, young cellist of Sao Paulo won a full scholarship to attend a prestigious conservatory in Austria. 

During the rehearsal of the State Youth Orchestra in the auditorium of Museum of Art of São Paulo (MASP) last Tuesday (1st), maestro Cláudio Cruz stopped the execution of the composition Choros No. 6, from Heitor Villa-Lobos, in several times to correct his musicians. Cellist Guilherme remained unscathed, as he performed the 25 minute classical piece without missing a note. This was not a coincidence. At 18, he is considered the stand-out of the group, especially after being awarded the Ernani de Almeida Machado Prize, granted in December 2014. The 60.000 reais reward will be used to fund his undergraduate studies in Austria, at the Mozarteum University of Salzburg, the land of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It's all thanks to a full scholarship earned in June - he ranked first among more than fifty competitors worldwide.

"I leave on the 23rd, but it still hasn’t sunk in," he admits.

Raised in Perus, a poor neighborhood in the North Region, the student is the eldest son of a history teacher and an educational psychologist. He fell in love with the cello at age eight, when he watched a concert on TV. Because the family had a tight budget, he had to run around the city to find an instrument with an affordable price (the best ones cost over five thousand reais).

"I found one for 1000 reais in a store in downtown, but my mother had to pay in 10 monthly installments to afford it," he says.

At 10, he proved his talent at the Music School of São Paulo State. He had to travel 10 kilometers everyday from his home to school to be able to study. He was the top candidate for a position in the University of São Paulo State (Unesp) music program, but he will now have to give up his spot to attend the Austrian institution.

Moraes is the cream of a crop of 11 low-income students of the State Youth Orchestra recently approved in conservatories abroad. Cellist Matheus Posso, 19, of Guaianazes, will also be at Mozarteum University of Salzburg Moraes’s and violinist André Lima, 21, of Butantan, will head to Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The achievements are the result of a restructuring in 2012, which included the adjustment of the students’ scholarship allowance, from 500 to 1.500 reais, and increased rigor of the selection processes.

"We want to help Brazil become an example of classical music," says Social Organization Santa Marcelina artistic director Paulo Zuben.