Brazilian Students Win Separate Statewide Piano Competitions

photo of pianists with professor

The Eastern Kentucky University campus in Richmond, Ky., and Sao Paulo, Brazil are almost 5,000 miles apart, but two students and a faculty member are using their musical talents to bridge the gap.

Cibele Moura, a sophomore piano performance major, and Edgar Gonsales, a graduate student in piano performance, both students of fellow Brazilian and EKU music faculty member Bernardo Scarambone, each won recent state piano competitions.

Moura took first place in the Bluegrass Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) state piano competition, while Gonsales took first in the MTNA state competition and will represent Kentucky in a nine-state regional competition, with the winner there going on to the national level.

Scarambone called Gonsales and Moura “amazing students, who were not required by any means to compete in such competitions, but decided to do it, in addition to all the workload they have. They are very professional, easy to work with and work really hard.

“You just have one chance to play for the judges,” Scarambone added. “A fair analogy would be to have one chance to hit a home run, or go home. Lots of pressure, and one shot at it.”

In winning the Bluegrass competition, Moura was following in the footsteps of Gabriel Fernandes, yet another Brazilian who followed Scarambone to EKU and won the event in 2013.

“This shows that EKU international students have amazing potential,” Scarambone said, “and we should open our doors even more to them. Another international student in the department – Gabriela Anibali – is also an amazing and accomplished musician.”

Gonsales credited Scarambone for helping him get the pieces ready for competition and thanked EKU for covering expenses. “He also helped me with the psychological way of thinking to perform in a competition.”

Moura came to EKU because of a scholarship offered by the Department of Music. “I could not afford to pay the tuition at my previous school,” she said, “so I sent my application to several universities seeking scholarships and EKU seemed one of the best options.”

She acknowledged she doesn’t generally enjoy competitions but, “as Mr. Scarambone told me, it helps to create a goal for myself. By that, I mean working hard to prepare a repertoire in a short time.

“There was a time when one piano lesson of an hour seemed to be not enough, so he offered an extra hour to teach me, which helped me a lot.”

Moura said she takes her major seriously, “but I still enjoy it because of the fun environment in the music department.”

Both of the Brazilian students intend to eventually pursue doctoral degrees.

For more information about opportunities in the EKU Department of Music, visit

Published on November 07, 2014

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