Supposing a man tells you he loves to make people laugh, you could probably guess what careers he'd go about pursuing. Comedian would top the list, followed closely by clown or cartoonist. Comedic pianist probably wouldn't be near the top of that list, but then again, who even knew that was a career?
Thiago Nascimento, a seasoned classical pianist known for infusing comedy and theatricality into his oft-improvised performances, never planned this kind of career. When he was 13, Nascimento started teaching himself piano. A year later, he was admitted into Dallas’ renowned Booker T. Washington arts magnet high school, and his career as a classical pianist was off.
At an age when most young pianists were approaching veteran status, Nascimento was just beginning a two-decade stretch that made him a fixture of the Dallas arts and theater scenes. Two decades after he taught himself how to read music, Nascimento is still somewhat baffled by his success as a pianist and his meteoric rise from beginner to wunderkind.
Nascimento doesn’t delve too deep into his childhood, but describes it as containing “a lot of trauma.”
“I don’t like to say music was my escape, because to me that sounds negative," Nascimento says. "But it’s my meditation, my therapy, it’s how I’ve gotten better. And if I can give that to someone else, then I’ve done my job.”
Despite how different they seem on the surface, Nascimento insists that piano and comedy are not that different.
“When you make someone smile or laugh, a little bit of a window opens up into who they are," he says. "Everything’s going to be OK when you’re smiling or laughing.”
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