Robert Anthony Castillo Brea is a musician, composer/arranger, electronic music producer, visual artist, and stone sculptor. Born and based in Kansas City, Castillo is a first-generation American born to a Mayan-speaking father from the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, and a mother born and raised in the Dominican Republic. Castillo’s yearns to connect with the vast depth of experience and to express what the depth requests. Castillo wishes that his works inspire others to investigate and develop their own infinite potential.
After graduating from North Kansas City High School in 2010, Castillo received a major in Jazz Bass and minor in Environmental Studies from North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, and began performing professionally in the Chicagoland area starting at age 19. Castillo then went to Fossil, OR where he accepted a position with AmeriCorps as the K-8 Music Teacher at Fossil Elementary. Castillo found himself with endless time in the high desert of central Oregon, during which he composed and arranged music, began creating visual art, and deepened his meditation practice.
Following this time in Fossil, Castillo moved to Portland, OR where he founded the groove jazz ensemble The Sextet. Much of the music written in Fossil can be heard on their first album “In a Natural State.” When Castillo moved back to Kansas City in the Fall of 2016, he reformed the group and released a second album “Blob Castle” in 2017. The Sextet released their third album “Among Friends” in September 2019.
“Among Friends” is diverse. The two-hour album includes such styles as: traditional jazz, New Orleans inspired second line, an afrobeat arrangement of the jazz standard “My Funny Valentine,” a classical verbatim arrangement of “Clare de Lune,” and a hip hop track in various odd time signatures. The album was well received, garnering recognition from National Public Radio. Aside from The Sextet, Castillo has performed all over the United States collaborating with musicians of any genre. One of these groups, The Standard vocal jazz ensemble, was awarded the Downbeat Music Award seven times during Castillo’s time with them. As well as composing for jazz ensembles, Castillo writes for string orchestra, full concert band, solo piano, avant garde trios, and everything in between.
In March of 2018, Castillo was challenged to create enough visual art to host a solo show. Visual art has since become a passion deeper than he could have ever imagined. He jokingly claims to have graduated from YouTube University after utilizing the resource to develop various oil painting techniques. Castillo’s visual art is as varied as his music. His subjects include Post-Classic Mayan imagery, geometric abstraction akin to post 1926 Kandinsky, realistic portraiture, and at times incorporates Van Gogh-like impressionism to create plein air impasto pieces. In addition to oil, he also utilizes gouache, watercolor, acrylic, colored pencil, spray paint, paint pens, glitter, and whatever else he can get his hands on. In January of 2022, Castillo begin stone sculpting and now creates with Carrara marble, alabaster, and steatite.
Robert values donating time, energy, and effort through volunteering. He volunteers with several organizations, including Cross-Lines Community Outreach. Here he serves on the Young Professionals Board, volunteering and organizing fundraising events. Robert also serves on the Nelson Atkins Friends of the Art Council, and was a member of ArtKC’s Inspiration Grant review committee for four years. Robert has been happily married to his high school sweetheart since the summer of 2015.