Eugene Castillo

True star of the evening
--The Washington Post

About

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Biography

Consistently praised for his persuasion, passion and eloquence on the podium, Eugene Castillo is a conductor well-known for his diverse and innovative programming. He was Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra beginning in 2003. His long relationship with the Cultural Center of the Philippines began in 1993 when he gained immediate admiration of both music critics and prominent musicians. In the Philippines, "thunderous applause" (The Philippine Star) consistently hallmarked his performances. In September 2004 he traveled with the orchestra for a highly acclaimed Royal Command Performance in Bangkok upon the invitation of Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana. (Manila Bulletin): "just like the last performance of this symphony before Brahm's death." Her Royal Highness declared a Royal Order for Castillo to perform again (Business Week). While in the Philippines, Mr. Castillo collaborated with many of the top artists in region as well conducting a Philippine production of Madama Butterfly.

Prior to that, the Los Angeles-born and raised Castillo held a nationally recognized tenure as Music Director and Conductor of the Camellia Symphony Orchestra in Sacramento, California where "power and heart" (The Sacramento Bee) described his conducting and performances. He is the recipient of four First Place awards with the orchestra from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) for innovative and adventuresome programming. It was there that Castillo quickly established a reputation as a creative concert programmer, orchestra builder and dedicated ambassador of the arts. Mr. Castillo, a strong advocate of contemporary music, has won deserved national recognition. In Sacramento, Eugene was well regarded for his educational work and outreach, particularly his work with 7th graders whom he helped write and perform their own symphonies. He was responsible for the commission and world premiere of Han Yong's Nianhua – Picture of Years and is regarded for his knowledge and performance of orchestral works by Asian as well as British composers. The Sacramento Bee named him "Critic's Choice" half a dozen times and Sacramento Magazine hailed him as "Sacramento's Top Rising Stars." Honored with numerous government and civic citations and awards, Castillo's artistic and public achievements merited reading into the Congressional Record of the United States House of Representatives when he made his conducting début with the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2001 after which he was named "true star of the evening – driving the finale to an ecstatic white heat" (The Washington Post).

Mr. Castillo has guest conducted such orchestras as the Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra, Ukraine, the Aurelian Symphony, England, the Orquesta Internacional de Cadaques, the Orquesta Sinfonica de Carlos Chavez, the Sacramento Symphony, the Long Beach Symphony, among others. He has also collaborated with artists including Cecile Licad, Santiago Rodriguez, Marvin Hamlisch, Sara Davis Buechner, Emma Lou Diemer, Kimball Wheeler, Aquiles De La Vigne, John Walz, and Fred Swann, as well as the Los Angeles Children's Chorus, the Dale Warland Singers, the Philippine Madrigal Singers, and Ballet Philippines.

Castillo began his professional career in 1993 with the Long Beach Symphony where he won the hearts of both audiences and the musicians. He first burst into national attention in 1996 when he stepped in on short notice for JoAnn Falletta – "a model of respect for the orchestra and the composer - a glowing success." (Long Beach Press Telegram) He was also Assistant to Jorge Mester at the Pasadena Symphony. He attended the distinguished Aspen Music Festival, and for two summers, was a Fellow at the prestigious Conductors' Institute in West Hartford, CT. He has taught on the faculties at the University of California, Davis, American River College, and California State University, Long Beach. His compositions have been widely performed and two new works recently appeared in the Erato Ensemble's (Vancouver, BC) Spring 2015 program.

Reviews

"utterly inspired, focused and uncompromising"
The Philippine Star

"With an impressive baton technique, Maestro Castillo reflected magnificent eloquence. He delineated its exquisite, recurring lyricism, through tonal colors and cohesiveness and created stirring, thunderous, overpowering climaxes by drawing from and shaping the orchestra's reserves of vigor, vitality and robustness."
The Philippine Star

"The word "mediocre" is not in the vocabulary of Eugene Castillo. Last Friday he was at his best. Castillo's baton work reflected vigorous, vibrant fashion. Under Castillo's direction, the symphony was exciting and pulsating, bringing a splendid, overwhelming conclusion.
The Philippine Star

Masterfully, Castillo led … to create an organized auditory fury. Maestro Castillo lent outstandingly seamless, vibrant support and meticulous attention to musical details, large and small. Castillo was in his element, demonstrating a firm grasp of his craft which drew prolonged applause.
The Philippine Star

"What conductor Castillo is too modest to talk about is what he did to hone the PPO into the much, much improved orchestra it is today. Under Eugene Castillo, who makes a wonderful annotator and explainer of music, the PPO has sharpened its ears and its skills."
Manila Bulletin

"Castillo masterfully conveyed the dramatic contrasts. The climax was powerful and thunderous. Castillo's magisterial baton gave a marvelous revelation of Bruckner's greatness."
The Philippine Star

"Castillo was in top form with the PPO. They were in the finest form as they acutely responded to his subtle cueing. The concert, which left a considerable impact on the audience, deserved the highest praise under Castillo's baton.
The Philippine Star

"Castillo, thoroughly familiar with the style, guided the orchestra with zest and bounce. Conductor Castillo exhibited exemplary, indeed superb command, with the orchestra scaling heights of romantic grandeur. The climax was of great moment."
The Philippine Star

Eugene Castillo created magical music. Ignited by the conductor's inspired and dynamic conducting … unwavering impetus, the dramatic tuttis reached a powerful, indeed, an overpowering and overwhelming climax. This was a most impressive, eloquent concert proving that the master on the podium was possessed of a singularly amazing grasp ...
The Philippine Star

"Castillo hewed closely, precisely and incisively, and the overall impression was exuberant and brash. The overall impression was that of intense concentration, fire meeting fire, the convergence releasing to the utmost the music's raw power. Castillo demonstrated his overwhelming command and mastery of the modern idiom."
The Philippine Star

"Castillo was awesome, his command of the orchestra became even more evident. With agitated intensity and exuberance in bringing out the immensity of the work, Castillo was, in truth, overwhelming. Superb."
The Philippine Star

" … you could hear a pin drop. The silence was deafening. Royal spokesman said that the princess found Mr. Castillo ‘with passion, emotion, and strength … she has never heard it played better than that night.' Her Majesty declared a Royal Order to Castillo to perform again."
Business Week

"Eugene Castillo wielded the baton in a vigorous, dynamic, incisive yet measured fashion. Through his compelling interpretation, Castillo made a forceful statement. Prolonged and resounding applause called him to well-deserved curtain calls."
The Philippine Star

"Under Castillo, the PPO sported a fresh symphonic sound, with a keen sensitivity to ensemble blending. The orchestration was deftly handled. Castillo succeeded in drawing out the orchestra's luster, all expressed in fine ensemble playing and with utmost attention to tonal balancing. Castillo, who conducted sans score, breezed through with solid ease. He read the Brahms with such a consuming passion, expressed in incisive gestures and cueing. Castillo treated the music with passionate vigor, which reached its height in the well-deserved ovation.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer

"That night, Castillo held magnificent sway over two formidable symphonies. Castillo etched the music with clarity and refined sensitivity, while conveying a wide variety of tonal colors and timbres. Castillo's control of dynamics was superb throughout filigree, barely audible pianissimos gradually built up to mighty torrents of sound. Castillo's intense, dynamic conducting garnered for him a standing ovation."
The Philippine Star

"The opening conveyed dash, verve and zest, Castillo admirably captured Dvorak's fiery, nationalistic spirit. The closing evinced Castillo's command of line and dynamics. With Castillo eliciting the musicians' total resources, the orchestral thunder reached a tremendous climax."
The Philippine Star

"With Castillo's inspiration, you could almost see and feel the scenes and the mood described in Verklärte Nacht."
Business World

"As expected, Eugene Castillo conceptualized haute voltage."
The Philippine Star

"Eugene Castillo is the most knowledgeable and conversant conductor of major contemporary works, also the most au courant and progressive."
The Philippine Star

"With absolute command, Castillo led the orchestra with intensity and exuberance."
The Philippine Star

"Castillo handled the sweeping phrases, the abrupt accentuations and contrapuntal dissonances vigorously and incisively, his keen perception drawing a clear-cut delineation of the contrasting elements … he reflected the power, beauty and magnificence of the work, sensitively interpreting the exquisitely melodious opening, his intense, febrile attacks building up to a veritable maelstrom in the finale. The tireless, dauntless, innovative Castillo presented a dynamic program dynamically interpreted. The thunderous applause led to a standing ovation."
The Philippine Star

"The highly inspired Maestro Eugene Castillo impressed with his authoritative youthful brio and energy."
Manila Bulletin

"Castillo's manner of creating intense musical momentum, with the melody surfacing in movement after movement, was riveting. How eloquently etched was the brilliant orchestration! Curtain calls, thunderous applause and cheers underscored Castillo's auspicious debut."
The Philippine Star

"The PPO never sounded so good, responding to [Castillo's] dynamic vigor, crescendos and decrescendos so well-honed, phrasing well-chiseled, raging emotions well controlled, it was just like the last performance of this symphony before Brahm's death."
Manila Bulletin

"The interchange between Linda Wang and Castillo was exhilarating, an impeccable technique and expressive interpretation. The PPO's rhythmic drive under Castillo's baton was so unbelievably impressive!"
Manila Times

"The PPO was highly charged under Castillo."
The Philippine Star

"Flamboyant, hip and cool, Castillo conducted without any musical score and annotated in a very informal way."
The Philippine Daily Inquirer

"Dynamic and young, conductor Castillo essayed lusty tones and arresting rhythms, with the climactic effects beautifully sounded."
The Philippine Daily Inquirer

"Castillo is an electric conductor, all passion as he swiftly sliced or caressed the space before him. It's more than a concert. Eugene is a sight to see with his forceful and passionate conducting. His energy is infectious."
Men's Zone Reviews

"From memory and without a baton, every gesture to coax the right shading, intense or pale, demanding or demure, was pulled from his vocabulary. [Castillo] won hearty applause and five curtain calls at the end of the program."
Manila Standard

"The timbers shook. Castillo conducted quietly, though stylishly, as he led the ensemble through many hoops, mood changes and difficult music. He was able to elicit subtlety, dynamic intensity and nuance from the orchestra. A satisfying evening of wildly varied emotions."
The Sacramento Bee

"As the curtains went up and Maestro Castillo raised his baton, you could hear gasps from the audience. Absolutely enthralled, delicious shivers went down my spine."
The Philippine Daily Inquirer

"The aura that Maestro Castillo projects is of someone who excels in his craft with supernatural fervor."
Today Manila

"I had to see the performance three times under the baton of extraordinary Maestro Eugene Castillo!"
The Philippine Star

" … a sense of mastery, his conducting was full of feeling. There was no way of escaping the feeling of his commitment in the music. Whoops came with the standing ovation."
The Sacramento Bee

"Power and heart describe Castillo's conducting, finding emotion in the music and drawing it from his players. He drove the work to an exciting climax."
The Sacramento Bee

"With an orchestra of international caliber, the true star of the evening appeared after intermission. Eugene Fredrick Castillo was persuasive in Ravel's "Daphnis et Chloé" Suite No. 2. Shaped with a sure sense of line and a beautifully gauged climactic build, the music unfolded with sultry languor, its busy inner lines glowing but always intelligible. Castillo sculpted the air (both with and without baton) in sweeping, emotionally communicative arcs, driving the finale to an ecstatic white heat."
The Washington Post

"The ovation was instant and unanimous."
The Sacramento Bee

"Respighi's "The Pines of Rome" really threatened the roof. Castillo built a long crescendo that generated a yell of excitement from the crowd."
The Sacramento Bee

"A night of eloquence, excitement and great differences of style, Castillo ought to get the deepest bow, but even more for his sensitivity to those differences in style."
The Sacramento Bee

"Not only a win, it was a major victory with a capacity crowd that responded with a persistent standing ovation. Castillo conducted with passionate regard for its romantic content, a performance for everyone to remember."
The Sacramento Bee

"Castillo led a performance that was at times all out in volume. The quietly swinging chords, jaunty and colorful, the winding, eerie tunes were all well and set forth by conductor."
The Sacramento Bee

"Not your usual mixed bag. It showed movement, wit and intelligence in programming by Eugene F. Castillo."
The Sacramento Bee

"Spellbinding, Castillo kept his hands in the air to hold the quiet. The spell held several seconds before the applause began and grew into an ovation."
The Sacramento Bee

"Led dynamically, Eugene F. Castillo delivered a concert with the kind of musical heat that gets audiences to their feet. Castillo was most impressive in conducting with the kind of spirit and control it demanded."
The Sacramento Bee

"A dream that came through, Castillo drew a large crowd and got the long ovation he deserved."
The Sacramento Bee

"Castillo drew out with fervor and admirable attention to detail the best the score had to offer. The applause was very long."
The Sacramento Bee

"A formidable program, conductor Eugene F. Castillo, with his usual fusion of passion and sensitivity, made it all work."
The Sacramento Bee

"Castillo led with great care, understanding and an excitement of his own, and his musicians responded with their very best playing. The applause was long and well deserved. The ovation was rewarded with an encore, the tender variation called "Nimrod," a perfect choice."
The Sacramento Bee

"Castillo, who has a flair for the exciting, underscored its drama."
The Sacramento Bee

"Castillo conducted with his usual conviction and ear for excitement, and the orchestra took it to considerable power."
The Sacramento Bee

"The first sellout in the orchestra's history due to the excitement generated by its new conductor. Castillo's conducting was in perfect emotional agreement. He led the great, tragic Brahms Fourth from memory in an all-out pursuit of its power. His style continues to be an impressive combination of the fiercely dramatic with intense attention to details in the score and in the orchestra."
The Sacramento Bee

"Castillo set a precedence of quality, integrity and innovation. Rarely has the orchestra ever played with so much feeling, passion, and pure musicality. Mr. Castillo is young, passionate and compassionate. He is an excellent conductor. He proved his worth in all categories with this performance. Conducting without score, he exuded confidence and knowledge. The work calls for every nuance and resource a conductor can amass during a lifetime. What Castillo did was simply astounding. He led the orchestra in virtually every aspect of the score with unrelenting belief and integrity. The concomitant effect on the audience was automatic. Castillo led as if Brahms himself were there. When the work concluded, there was a fire and passion in the air. Make no mistake about it: Sacramento has a Conductor."
Sacramento Classical Review

"His debut was a remarkable mixed bag, conducted … with sharp attention to detail. Castillo brought out the antiphonal nature of the music with a brilliance of sound much greater than usual. Castillo's commands were ecstatic to the point where he ended the work with those six final chords dramatically defined. There was another ovation."
The Sacramento Bee

"Castillo was impressive; he maintained his fervor but never lost his control. His performance worked. The keys to its success were Castillo's intellect and savvy. He could cut loose and show us his full style, which is fluid but forceful. He conducted the piece from memory, and obviously enjoyed its qualities. The final cadence was downright thrilling. An exciting conductor, Castillo won a standing ovation from the audience and long applause from the orchestra members."
The Sacramento Bee

"The performance was smooth, romantic, folksy and affectionate. Castillo employed a conducting style that is confident and thoroughly in sympathy with the music. There are no meaningless gestures and the beat and the conductor's intentions are always clear. He is a model of respect for the composer and for the orchestra … an exuberant triumph for the conductor."
Long Beach Press Telegram

"The conductor's broad beat drew seamless lines and encouraged plenty of vibrancy."
Los Angeles Times

"This conductor has compelling stage presence and a musical authority that belies his young age. His conducting has a tight musician's focus and a style that keeps every measure of music alive. It left no doubt in my mind that he was one conductor any soloist of consequence would be comfortable with."
The Philippine Daily Inquirer

"The test of a good conductor is how to extract magic from short and simple pieces devoid of thunder and lightning. The way Eugene Fredrick Castillo honed the orchestra, one saw his strong affinity to music -- its inherent inner flow. Castillo was a perfect musical vehicle."
The Philippine Daily Inquirer

"Castillo's Carmina Burana I found classier, more enjoyable and simply, more balanced, than many a star-studded production I'd suffered through."
Herbert Glass, formerly from The Los Angeles Times

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