César Viana

César Viana

Cesar Viana is a composer and performer of shakuhachi (bamboo flute of the Japanese Zen monks) and baroque recorder. He currently lives in Spain, where he teaches music composition at the Centro Superior Katarina Gurska (Madrid).

Viana’s composition does not belong to any particular school: his music is born from his deep knowledge of the western musical tradition, with very important contributions from his study of Japanese classical music and his activity as a performer of baroque music. Above all, it is music with a permanent commitment to beauty and technical seriousness, always seeking a deep intellectual and spiritual communion with the performers and the audience.

As a conductor, a baroque flute and shakuhachi player, and as a composer, Viana has recorded for major labels (EMI, RCA, BMG; Philips, etc.) and collaborated with important international performers.

In addition to his activities as a performer, Viana also assumed important artistic and administrative responsibilities in Belgais – Centro de Estudos das Artes (founded by Maria João Pires – 2003-2007), Lisbon Metropolitan Orchestra (2007-2010) and as a member of the board of directors of OPART (management body of the Portuguese national opera and ballet (2010-2012). In 2012, on the verge of turning 50, he decided to take a new direction in his career, seeking a more artistic and less bureaucratic approach. He left Portugal and moved to Madrid (Spain) where he devoted himself to teaching musical composition and decided to start studying more seriously the shakuhachi. He became a student of the master Keisuke Zenyoji, one of the instrument’s top references, and with him he learned the entire classical Honkyoku repertoire (original zen repertoire).

Cesar Viana performs regularly as a shakuhachi player, both solo and with the pianist Hortensia Hierro. Occasionally, he also plays with Gaho Takahachi (koto and shamisen). As a performer, he participated in the creation of Ko Murobushi’s “Geshi”, played the shakuhachi part of Carl Jenkins’ Requiem at the Auditorio Nacional de Madrid, performed Doina Rotaru’s tour de force ‘Over Time’ with Alessandra Rombolà, and was a finalist in the world’s leading shakuhachi competition: the Hogaku World Shakuhachi Competition (2018). He also regularly participates in activities promoted by the Japanese Embassies in Lisbon and Madrid.

The shakuhachi also became very important in Viana’s concept of musical composition. On the one hand, the concepts that originate in shakuhachi music (the sound of the instrument, the importance of breathing, silence and the expressive intensity of the Honkyoku repertoire) are present in several of his compositions, although he has not composed much for the shakuhachi itself; the only exception is a solo shakuhachi piece (Algo-Ritmo) composed in 2020 for the Ballet Nacional de Portugal. On the other hand, with his daily musical practice that includes early music, shakuhachi, teaching Western classical harmony, Viana soon realised that his compositional output could not be independent of all these dimensions. The notion of the “born piece” of the great 20th century master Jin Nyodo (teacher of his shakuhachi master) and his original ideas about musical composition have been a very important reference in bringing all these seemingly distant dimensions closer together.

Subjects taught:

  • Direction Technique
  • Contemporary Counterpoint
  • Form and structure, open work, improvisation, indetermination
  • Temperament, tuning, scales, harmonic systems

Degrees in which he/she teaches:

Director of the Master's Degree in Contemporary Instrumental Composition

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