Onstage, the expressionless face of Mateo looks immovably at nothing. He places his small hands on the piano in the midst of silence and begins to play a sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven.
“Sometimes I don’t hear the audience. I get started with the music and in my mind I begin to think of stories related to what I’m playing,” said 12-year-old Mateo González Tamariz, before giving a concert at the National Palace, seat of Mexico’s executive branch.
Mateo is one of the outstanding students of ‘Las Notas de Guido,’ a permanent program for promoting musicians, and of the Higher Institute of Music in the Mexican state of Veracruz.
His fingers speed along the Steinway keyboard with a clear, bright rendering of such notes as “grave; allegro di molto e con brio,” that bridge feelings from pain to light. And when he moves his head from side to side, the sounds surge forth of ‘Adagio Cantabile’ and ‘Rondo Allegro.’
His emotions keep time with the works of his choice, Mateo said, as did Beethoven’s, who was showing his fear of going deaf. “He created a very beautiful work out of the fear it caused him to lose what was most beautiful,” he said.
“He has all the talent he needs to be a great musician. We’re talking about a bravura related to energy, power and speed, but also to sweetness, communication and art,” said Mateo’s teacher Luisa Gonzalez Pardo, head of the ‘Las Notas de Guido’ festival.
The teacher said that with all the concerts under his belt, “Mateo can be Mateo. He has his own personality, and from the first moment you hear Mateo you are hearing someone who will be forever Mateo.”
At his young age, Mateo is concerned about his future and whether he’ll be able to keep playing the piano - he even talks about possible failures in the distant future.
His teachers describe him as a boy who takes musical works and makes them his own through his feelings, emotions and experiences, but before each concert he feels nervous and peeks out to see how big an audience has comes to hear him. After that he sits backstage in silence until it’s time to perform.
“Then suddenly everyone applauds and it’s pretty comforting, and by the time you’re playing the last compositions you feel the piano is all yours,” Mateo said about his public appearances.