The Altino Brothers
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The Altino Brothers

New York City, New York, United States

New York City, New York, United States
Band Classical Gospel

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"Brothers Popularize Classical Music"

Although Southeast Queens is known for its ever-evolving jazz scene, Nerva and Robenson Altino chose to follow their hearts and play classical piano instead. "It's the most challenging style of
music, everything else was easy," Nerva said. Robenson said although it's common for people to get into classical piano, most people do not have the discipline
to follow through with it. The Altino family moved to Jamaica, Queens from Haiti in 1983. Nerva was 10 and Robenson was 8. They learned to speak English by watching PBS, with their mother translating the words into Creole. The brothers also picked up their passion for the piano form watching Andre Watts and Vladimir Horowitz. "Andre Watts made it look cool to play
the piano," Nerva said. Although Jean-Lecome Altino, their father, had the vision of having one son be a pastor and the other a doctor, he supported their dreams to become pianists. Our parents were the only, ones who were supportive," Nerva said. According to Jean-Lecome, Nerva always had a passion for music. He would make his father vocalize so he could sway with the rhythm. When they moved to the United States, Jean-Lecome started training
the boys himself. The brothers said they add a twist to their classical concerts that will stop, anyone from falling asleep. "You can hear
other things in our music." Nerva said. The other things Nerva is referring to range from Gospel to Pop. "By adding a different sound to the traditional form of music, Nerva and Robenson hope to find a place for classical music within popular culture. The brothers debuted at Lincoln Center in 2002 and toured the country and Puerto Rico. The brothers will be returning to Lincoln Center to perform "An Evening with the Altino Brothers" on Easter Sunday. They will be performing an arrangement of gospel, classical and Haitian folksongs, accompanied by Gospel and opera singers, African drummers and a 10-piece
band. The brothers are holding
the concert in conjunction with the American Lung Association. They chose to collaborate with the ALA because their mother died from chronic asthma at the age of 55 and they want to contribute to
finding a cure for the disease.
The concert will take place April 11 at 5 p.m. in the Alice Tully Hall in
Lincoln Center. The Alice Tully Hall is located on Broadway and 65th Street. The tickets are $25 to $40. For further information or to purchase tickets call (212) 721-6500 or visit www.lincolncenter.org. - RAYNELLE CERICA BULL


"Altino Brothers' Triumphant Debut"

A major musical event took place last Saturday evening in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. The Altino Brothers - Nerva and Robenson - made their official debut as concert pianists with the assistance of Ensemble du Monde, conducted by Marlon Daniel. It attracted a large audience. The Altinos were born in
Haiti and received their musical
education in the United States,
at first taught by their father, a
highly trained musician. Both
pianists now hold a master's
degree from the Manhattan
School of Music. They have
played throughout the United
States and elsewhere to much
acclaim. Robenson was heard on Saturday evening as soloist in
Prokofiev's Concerto in C major.
Opus 26, a fiendishly difficult
work that challenges world famous
artists. He not only met the technical challenges, but
also made beautiful music, probing
deep into the soul of the score.
Nerva, the elder brother, brilliantly
played Tchaikovsky's Concerto in B-flat minor, Opus 23, in the second half of the program. Because this work is so familiar, much is expected of its interpreters. This pianist brought youthful freshness and something quite personal to his
approach to the score. Throughout his exciting and compelling rendition, the audience seemed spellbound and offered Altino and the orchestra an immediate and prolonged standing ovation at the work's tumultuous conclusion. - Telegram & Gazette by aoul Abdul Special to the AmNews


"Altino Brothers to take Lincoln Center Stage"

JAMAICA, N.Y.- Children whose parents leave them in Haiti with aunts and uncles, or grandmothers and godfathers, usually ask parents to send toys, the latest
in fashion, or maybe a favorite food they've developed a taste from America. Sending for them is also at the top of fhe list of many youngsters yearning for their parents' love and contact. In Nerva and Robenson Altino's case, two brothers about to take the Lincoln
Center Stage next month with their pianos, the request was a bit uncommon. Knowing he was working to reunite the family, the
two boys, less than 10 years old in the early 1980's, asked their father Jean Lecome Altino to have a piano ready for them when they got to America. "I was obsessed with the piano, but we were poor [in Haiti]; we couldn't afford lessons," said Nerva, the older, more talkative
brother. Nerva, 30, remembers their arrival into the St. Albans, NY basement apartment clearly: "Our parents slept in the living room, we slept in the kitchen, but somehow,
they found room to put a piano," he
said, smiling as if to say, "isn't that incredible?" During the boys' first year here, Altino taught them the basic keys, jingles and other rudiments of piano. That prepared
them for entering a local music studio, their life-long love of piano and classical music, as well as created their economic livelihood.
"If your love is strong enough, you'll
make it," said Robenson, 28, from the two story family home, located steps away from a small lake in Jamaica, Queens. "People might say, 'oh, you're great, but you have to continue your studies." Both hold masters' degrees in music from the Manhattan School of Music, travel for concerts nationwide, released their debut album in 2003, and direct their own
gospel choir, The Altino Brothers
Chorale. On April 11, the Altino brothers will perform at the Lincoln
Center's Alice Tully. They say their brand of music is a combination
of classical, gospel, and
reggae, in certain pieces. At the
upcoming show, the brothers
plan to play Haitian folk tunes
such as Ti Zwazo," in celebration
of the countrys 200-year anniversary, "We mix it up so that our concerts arc enjoyable," Nerva said. The elder Altino could not be
prouder of his sons, especially
for recognizing their heritage by incorporating Haitian songs into their repertoire. From the time he watched them dance around in the Seventh Day Adventist Church where he played in Haiti, he has encouraged their interest in music.
Though at one point, he had hoped one would be a pastor, the other a doctor. "I'm really happy for them. But economically, they're not there yet," said Altino, 66, a retired hospital maintenance worker.
Altino says when he watched them play at Lincoln Center performance in 2002- to about 900 people- he was amazed. He said his wife, who died of asthma months after that performance, was incredibly proud of the boys for incorporating the Haitian elements in their concerts. "They were diligent and never shirked what I asked of them," said George M. Davis, the Altinos' first formal instructor
for about eight years. "They're very keen and very perceptive. [And] they didn't resent being corrected.
Davis said watching them at the Lincoln Center two years ago, he found Robensons rendition of Prokofiev Piano Concerto #3
modern, lyrical and the demands of the piece negotiated well; he thought Nerva's Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto #1 was romantic. The two brothers say their parents sacrificed a lot for them to pursue their love for music. They say some relatives tried to dissuade their father and mother, Rita, but their parents stuck by. They enrolled the
boys at the George Davis School of Music, using money budgeted for other things at times to pay for the lessons. But then again, they say, their father risked his life to give them a better life by boarding a ship headed to the U.S. The
story of how the elder Altino went without food for a month and watched people die as they sailed to the Bahamas inspires them.
After their mom left Haiti to join their father here, Nerva and Robenson were left in the care of Nerva's godfather- a step that
a majority of Haitian parents often take in their quest to build a better life for their families. "We've never been so abused in our lives," Nerva said now, remembering the beatings that he feels were unwarranted and being blamed for things they did not do in the household. "That's normal [in
Haiti], as crazy as it sounds."
Though their time was shadowed by mistreatment, the men remember good times in Haiti. "Certain music I play, I
could still feel the sun, still see the kids asking for bread and peanut butter." Robenson said, referring to the pupils at the Gesner Anglade School they attended in Port-au-Prince. In the United States, they faced challenges also. The teasing and name-calling that made Nerva feels, sometimes, like not telling people he was Haitian; Robenson
not liking his father's style of teaching; and their mom's constant asthma attacks were a few of them.
But the family built a decent life in
Queens and they are proud to not only say they are Haitian, but also to broadcast it in their concerts and recordings. "People could say, 'you came here on a banana boat," but I could say, "yeah, and look at us now," Nerva said, from behind
the wheel of Robenson's blue two-door Toyota Tercel." "I'm proud to be Haitian" said Nerva, who is single but dates regularly. As Haitians parents often tell their children, America cares more about one's brain more than anything else. However debatable
that axiom might be, it proved true for the Altinos. Their aptitude for single and duo piano pieces has garnered many opportunities,
enough to stage it at a world-renowned venue, at least. It's allowed them to make a
living out of what they love, which was not even an option back in Haiti because, as Nerva says, the konpa industry- and society's
view of musicians as low-class and
fickle- was the main outlet. Still, Nerva feels they could've been
where they are now sooner if they had been born here and gotten access to a piano before ages 10 and 8. As Robenson said, their primary audience is "people who enjoy good music," including the theatre buffs who consume
classical albums since they were trained as classical musicians. The hip-hop generation that enjoys modern, urban rhythms has
its virtues as well and they must cater to it. Nerva hopes they could go "platinum" someday. After all, Yanni, the Greek pianist, did it.
They want more people to react to their music the way that nuns did at their last Christmas concert- dancing to the reggae beat toward the end of the show. The influence
of reggae- from having many Jamaican friends while at school- and gospel- which they played every Sunday as church pianists- are instantly recognized on their two-CD album, "3Piano3, Three
Who Dare." Amazing Grace, Tarentella (from suite #2) Opus 17, Lift Every Voice and Sing, Polonaise in Ab Major, and Wade in the Water are among the pieces on the album. At the April concert, the two will offer La Dessalinienne, Haiti Cherie, and other selections.
"We are a part of the community here," said Davis, a Jamaica native, of blacks from the Caribbean. "They are contributing to the melting pot that is New York." - The Haitian Times by Macollvie Jean-Francois


"Ending article about Nerva in college."

The program concluded with the evening's other highlight, the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s famous "Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-Flat Minor." which featured a dramatic and commanding performance by pianist Nerva Altino., first-place winner of the 1995 Thayer Young Artist Competition. This pianist possesses both a big, virtuosic technique and a large and focused tone. Throughout his exciting and compelling rendition, the audience seemed spellbound and offered Altino and the orchestra an immediate and prolonged standing ovation at the work's tumultuous conclusion. - Worcester Telegram & Gazette


Discography

New Release: Classical with a Twist. Live from Merkin Concert Hall. Go to www.theAltinoBrothers.com to hear lastest recording session.
Last CD - No Boundaries released in 2005
CD- Three Pianos 3, released in 2003

Photos

Bio

The Altino Brothers have an amazing talent, a unique sound and a compelling life story. Coming from modest means in Haiti to Jamaica, Queens is not the typical route most piano virtuosos follow. But it is their humble start that fueled their determination and decipline to develop their talent to world class levels. While Nerva and Robenson perform the works of the classical masters such as Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, and Rachmaninoff, they also perform their own arrangements of pop, gospel, hymns and jazz tunes. Their multi-genre repertoire combines jazz idioms, classical motifs and gospel rhythms. They are dazzling technically and sincere musically. Their performances are memorable and very entertaining. Performing in major concert halls and churches throughout the United States, they frequently bring audiences to their feet. Nerva is also a gifted composer and arranger of crossover and church music. He and his brother, Robenson formed the Altino Brothers Concert Chorale, a 100 voice choir, that perform many of Nerva's arrangements with power and intensity.