Music can pierce the heart directly,
it needs no mediation.
Oliver Sacks
Biography Israel Castillo Hernandez

Biography Israel Castillo Hernandez

The viola: instruments and bow

The instruments I play are made by two excellent Latin-American makers, residing in Europe: Marcello Ardizzone (Argentina) and Carlos Pineda (Mexico). My bows are made by the renown bow maker Luis Emilio Rodriguez-Carrington (Mexico), who lives in the Netherlands.

Music, uniquely among the arts, is both completely abstract and profoundly emotional. It has no power to represent anything particular or external, but it has a unique power to express inner states or feelings. Music can pierce the heart directly, it needs no mediation.
Oliver Sacks in ‘Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain’
I was born in Mexico City. My father was born in the city of Juchitan Oaxaca, which is located in the isthmus of Tehuantepec. My mother was born in Mexico City, but her family came from the state of Guanajuato. They raised me – as many Mexicans – with a mixture of indigenous and western values.
These values have had a strong influence on my life as a musician.
A few years after starting my studies of double bass in Mexico at the National School of Music, I had an epiphany when I heard the sound of a viola da gamba in the corridors of my school. Since then I have an inseparable companion in my life, which has stimulated me to travel and to discover thousands of people on my roads of making music.
I started my studies viola da gamba under the supervision of my beloved teacher and friend Gabriela Villa Walls and then I moved to The Netherlands thanks to the sponsorship of the Mexican National Fund for the Culture and the Arts. I studied Historically Informed Performance in the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague where I obtained my master diploma as a soloist under the supervision of Anneke Pols, Wieland Kuijken and Philipe Pierlot.
In 2014, I enrolled again in the Royal Conservatoire to study the NAIP European Masters of Music, a European effort to challenge the current environment in our society by exploring changes in music education, creating new audiences and innovative performances. Summer 2016, I finished this study under the supervision of Renée Jonker.

Intercultural activities

At some point, while living in the Netherlands, the role of my indigenous background in the way I performed music became more evident. This motivated me and stimulated me to start intercultural activities, which made cultural connections between musicians, music and society in both continents possible. I experienced that being connected is enriching for both cultures, for the European culture as well as for the Latin-American culture.
For this reason, I have been in contact with my home country Mexico and with Guatemala constantly, as teacher and performer. One of the other results of connecting cultures, is the Solo for All project, which started in summer 2016. The project is a series of instrumental solo concerts in the intimacy of living rooms in The Netherlands. A rather large percentage of the earnings is sent to adopted projects in Latin-America, in order to continue music education for children. In 2017, more musicians will be asked to participate in the Solo for All project. For more information about the adopted schools of Solo for All, click here.