Born in Berga near Barcelona (Spain), Hispano-British musician and composer Toni Castells took up music at the age of 4, studying classical guitar and clarinet as main instruments, teaching himself also to play the piano. He went on to study at the Conservatori Municipal de Música de Barcelona, winning the coveted St. Joan de Vilatorrada Composition Prize with his duet 'Imatges' for flute and piano aged 14. By that time he had already started his first symphonic rock band with local friends, Herzia, in which he played the keyboards. After 10 years of demo-making and playing concerts all over the Catalan territory, they signed a record deal with AZ Records in 1998. Their debut album 'Coses que Passen' (AZ Records 1999) was named best Catalan rock album of 1999 by specialised music magazine Popular 1.
In 2000 Toni moved to London to work with Spanish pop legend José María Cano from 80s Spanish pop band Mecano, with whom he recorded José María's first solo album after the split of Mecano, 'Josecano' (Muxxic 2001) and which whom he also had the opportunity to work with tenor Plácido Domingo recording the Centenary Anthem for Real Madrid CF in 2002. At the same time Toni had secured a job as an Assistant Recording Engineer at the Royal College of Music, where he has the opportunity to work and record with conductors such as Lorin Maazel, Bernard Haitink and Roger Norrington.
In 2004 Toni starts writing music again fusing the two musical strands that had run in parallel all this life, western classical tradition and popular music. He takes particular interest in the female operatic voice and downtempo electronic beats. The first result of this experimentation is the self-released album 'Unharmed' (2006). The album featured the vocalises of New Zealander soprano Amelia Whiteman together with the husky vocals of Spanish singer Elisabeth Rodergas (better known as Beth), who had represented Spain at Eurovision in 2003 finishing in eighth position and who famously Terry Wogan referred to as the "Kylie Minogue in dreadlocks". The album also featured Dublin-born singer Roberta Howett, finalist in the first edition of The X-Factor in 2004 and who was mentored by Sharon Osbourne. It also featured singer Fran Hardcastle. 'Unharmed' reached the iTunes Top 20 download charts on its release.
The following year Toni self-produced a live show adapting the music of 'Unharmed'. It premiered in Bush Hall in collaboration with the acclaimed Sacconi Quartet and British visual artist and photographer Conor Masterson. During 2007-2009 Toni toured the show through the UK and Spain in collaboration with Icelandic visual artist and photographer Maria Kjartansdottir.
By then Toni had started what would become a life-long collaboration with American soprano Rebecca Nelsen, lead soprano at the Vienna Volksopper and named "a star" by the Wall Street Journal. Rebecca sung two of Toni's most iconic and critically acclaimed albums, 'Creation' (2011) and 'Slaves of Time' (2016).
'Creation' (2011) was adapted for the live stage in the form of 'Life from Light' (2012), which premiered at Union Chapel in London featuring Roberta Howett, prize-winning British soprano Susan Jiwey, British countertenor Oliver Gerrish and video artist Thomas Yeomans.
Funded by the Arts Council England and in collaboration with Tete-a-Tete Opera, 'Life from Light' was readapted for a run at Kings Place in 2014, filling out Hall One in two consecutive nights. The performances featured Roberta Howett, Oliver Gerrish, British soprano Meeta Raval, finalist in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in 2011, crossover British soprano Camilla Kerslake and Cuban jazz trumpeter Yelfris Valdes.
'Slaves of Time' (2012) was adapted for the live stage in the form of '2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal' (2016), which premiered at St. James's Piccadilly and was later performed in Cowdray House. The performances featured Oliver Gerrish, Meeta Raval, Alexandra Kennedy, Helios Voices and the acclaimed Aquinas Piano Trio.
Toni releases his music through his own label Interstellar Music. Toni also teaches Sound Technology and Music Technology at Imperial College London and the London College of Music.
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