Q&A with Ricardo Curto, Co-Founder of the Yamaha Music School Valencia
Photo courtesy of Ricardo Curto
Ricardo Curto is an accomplished jazz pianist, composer, and producer from the Canary Islands, Spain, who also mixes jazz and electronic music. Curto holds a Bachelor of Music in Performance degree from Berklee College of Music in Boston and a Master of Music in Contemporary Performance (Production Concentration) from Berklee’s campus in Valencia, class of 2014. He has released four albums as a leader, featuring many of his own original compositions, has performed at some of the best jazz venues around the world, has shared the stage with musicians such as Mario Rossi, and clinics with Eddie Gomez and Perico Sambeat at Berklee's campus in Valencia. He recently became a Yamaha Artist. In 2015, Curto co-founded the prestigious Yamaha Music School Valencia, and today he combines his career as an active musician and producer with his work as the artistic director of this institution.
Why did you decide to pursue a Master of Music in Contemporary Performance (Production Concentration) at Berklee’s campus in Valencia?
I decided to pursue the master's degree in Contemporary Performance (Production Concentration) at the Valencia campus when I was in the last year of my bachelor's at Berklee in Boston. Being in the Berklee family for four years at the time, I made a huge network of people in the music industry. The opportunity to remain in such an inspiring and rewarding environment was just something I could not drop. Besides, being from Spain, the idea of experiencing Berklee inside the Mediterranean environment and witnessing it become a new melting pot of revolutionary ideas and forward-thinking people coming from all over the world in a remarkably beautiful city like Valencia, turned out to be a brilliant idea.
What things did you learn at Berklee that positioned you for success when you left and got your job?
Berklee gave me everything I needed to be a complete musician and entrepreneur. Besides observing and sharing unforgettable moments with my mentors, I learned concepts that go beyond music and relate to life. Basically, at Berklee “I learned to learn.” I listened, observed, processed, and transformed all this to something better. When I left Berklee I was full of energy, ideas, and inspiration.
You have started your own music school in Valencia. Can you tell us how you got into this entrepreneurial adventure?
I believe in order for music to progress, we should learn musical concepts and discoveries from other musicians and also teach our own to them. I am a jazz pianist and producer, I love to perform and I love to compose, but I could not do this full time. I need to share my experiences through my teaching. Being a performer, composer/producer, and teacher is what really works for me. It was this passion for sharing my music with others that ultimately led me to start a brand-new music school, hand in hand with both my beautiful wife, Laura, and the Yamaha Foundation of Music Europe, in Valencia, Spain.
Can you tell us a little bit about the school?
Yamaha is a great corporation dedicated to making musical instruments and is also a nonprofit foundation that encompasses more than 6,000 music schools around the world. At the Yamaha Music School Valencia we feature state-of-the-art facilities and a remarkable team of teachers, many of them Berklee Boston and Berklee Valencia graduates. We teach performance courses for adults and children, and also music production courses. We also teach clinics and workshops featuring visiting artists and, thanks to our great relationship with Berklee, we have had the pleasure of featuring Berklee´s amazing teachers Pat Pattison, Stephen Webber, and Nacho Marco this last academic year. It has been a really exciting one!
What's your plan for your business in the years to come?
Our plan is to work as hard as possible to educate musicians that are fully prepared to contribute to this period. Thanks to our amazing team of young and successful teachers, we are constantly developing new and revolutionary courses and we really try to find new ways to integrate different musical disciplines, providing a solid foundation while potentiating creativity and integration.
Would you advise prospective students to come to Berklee’s campus in Valencia for their master’s programs?
I would advise them to not hesitate for a second. The Berklee campus here in Valencia is outstanding. The facilities, teachers, and administrators are top notch. As a result, the experience that you get as a master’s student is, without any doubt, one of the best that you can get in the world. It is something truly unique to be able to experience an international environment full of ideas and contacts, all of them centered only around music.
What was the best aspect about your experience at Berklee’s campus in Valencia?
The very best aspect that I got is the people I met. I don’t know any other place where you can meet a whole community of people, all from such diverse cultures and distant places, coming together to a wonderful place with just one goal in mind: to make, and help others make, great music. As a Berklee Valencia student I mastered my jazz piano skills, I arranged Indian classical music into jazz harmony, I was involved with DJs and producers in the making of electronic music, I traveled to Sao Paolo, Brazil, playing Latin jazz music with an amazing quartet led by Berklee professor Victor Mendoza, I performed in many of the best music venues in Spain, and a very long “etcetera” of unforgettable experiences, all of them surrounded by great musicians that today I am really proud to call my best friends.