A 13-year-old boy, Damodar Das Castillo, earned first prize (category C) in the Musica Goritiensis International Music Competition, which took place in Italy from May 29 to June 2, 2021.
The competition, which took place in Gorizia, Italy, was meant to take place at Theater Kulturni. However, the rapid increase of COVID-19 swayed the tournament organizers’ plans.
Qualified competitors were instructed to submit videos at the last minute instead of traveling to Italy.
Castillo, a Salzburg Mozarteum scholar, submitted a video of him playing Auguste Franchomme’s Caprice no. 9 in b minor Op.72, a second movement from Francois Francoeur’s Cello Sonata in E Major and the first movement from Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor, Opus 85.
Category C Cello participants should be citizens born 2007-2009 and should have a maximum performance time of 15 minutes. They should perform one Etude by the following composers: D. Popper, J. L. Duport, F. Dotzauer, J. Merk, A. Franchomme, or others of a similar level of difficulty and one movement from a Concerto and one-piece or two contrasting pieces for cello with piano accompaniment of the contestant’s choice.
Castillo claimed he was only urged to prepare for the Tchaikovsky competition in October and decided to try his luck in Gorizia. “The next thing I knew, I won,” he said.
The cellist, who is under the tutelage of Prof. Barbara Leubke, said that her mentor was very encouraging and is “always there during rehearsals and concerts to give support and advice.”
His first-place titles include the 2017 First North Competition International Music Autumn. He also took first place in the Tallinn, Estonia 2018 Young Artists Competition. He was also named the winner of the 2020 International Artur Rubinstein Competition in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Also, he won first place in the Young Ludwig International Music Competition in Berlin, Germany, in 2020. His most recent addition is the 2021 Musica Goritiensis in Gorizia, Italy.
Damodar was also awarded a silver special prize for Young Artists (string) at the 3rd Vienna International Music Competition which ended June 30, 2021.
The prodigy leads a regular life in between winning international contests. He enjoys playing table tennis, basketball, and football, as well as heavy metal songs on the cello.
Watch his full performances here: