Music seems to have been as essential a part of life for the Rio- born,
"I learned to play music even before I could write," says de holanda. "It was our way to have a fluid communication. In my house, when I was young, every day we had rehearsals with the trio. I always loved this moment, to play, to practise, to study. The mandolin became like a friend. I used to play for hours every day. When I was a child, the size was perfect for me and the sound has a mystery that intrigued me. It can be both classical and popular, sweet and or acid in tone. Today, I have my family, my children, the time is a little bit different, but I still practise every day."
With no mandolin teacher available, between the ages of six and eleven
By this time the group was a duo with his brother and the two young boys -- Hamilton was six when he played his first professional gig -- had quite a schedule, playing concerts, tours and TV shows. When he wasn't playing professionally he would jam with friends for fun.
To begin with his musical heroes were those who played in the style he and his brother followed. Composers Pixinguinha and Jacob do Bandolim, who specialized in writing choro music for
Today, of course, many of the international musicians whose music he enjoys are as likely to be playing onstage or in the studio with him as playing through his headphones. His duo album with Italian pianist Stefano Bollani for the ECM label, O que sera, has won praise all around the world and his work with French accordionist Richard Galliano, especially on the album Samba do Aviao, is the kind of music that brings involuntary gasps as the two musicians inspire each other to greater creative heights.
"The first time Stefano and I played together was magical," he says. "But I find that I always have something to learn when I get together with musicians from other cultures. It's always an amazing experience. I'm a Brazilian musician, my music is from my country, but the world is our home. To play with different musicians is one of the best ways to have fun, to create peace, to celebrate life."
Of all his summit meetings, though,
He says: "One of the most incredible experiences in my life was to see Hermeto the first time. Music seemed to come out by the hair, the beard [Pascoal can be seen playing his beard on
There'll be no playing of beards -- or piglets -- when
"When I began with the ten-string instrument -- the normal mandolin has eight strings -- my target was to play the melody, the harmony and the rhythm together," he says. "So it's like a solo guitar or piano and every year I do some solo concerts around the world. I have a big repertoire and every concert I choose a different repertoire, spontaneously. It will be a joy to do a concert for the first time in