Dr. Kristina Rizzotto

Official website of the Latvian Brazilian organist Dr. Kristina Rizzotto

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Latvian Brazilian organist Dr. Kristina Rizzotto received a doctorate from the University of Oklahoma, a Master of Music from East Carolina University, and a Bachelor’s degree from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro.

Transgender organist and composer Dr. Kris Rizzotto at the organ

Kris studied piano under Dr. Miriam Grosman, graduating from the Bachelor’s degree program in Piano Performance at UFRJ in 2010, Magna cum Laude. She performed as a concert pianist in many solo recitals and as a piano accompanist in several cities and states of Brazil since 2007 and was awarded second place at the XVIII ArtLivre National Piano Competition.

Before her first organ lessons ever, with Dr. Alexandre Rachid at UFRJ, in order to do something about the complete absence of instrumental music at mass in the church she attended, and having always been passionate and interested in playing what she considers to be the authentic liturgical instrument, Kristina decided to volunteer as an organist at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Lagoa in 2007. In December 2008 Rizzotto became organist at Our Lady of Glory Catholic Church in Largo do Machado. On fall 2009 Kristina spent an exchange semester at East Carolina University under the instruction of Andrew Scanlon, sponsored by the Brazilian Ministry of Education. Back in Rio in 2010 to graduate, she was nominated the organist of the city’s famous Benedictine Abbey, owner of one of the oldest organs in South America and a tourist hub for its solemn Latin chant and organ masses.

The organ at the Benedictine Monastery in Rio de Janeiro

Kristina returned to ECU in August 2011 for the Master’s degree program in Sacred Music/Organ (MM), and also started playing for the First United Methodist Church in Washington, NC, at that time. The 11 AM Service was broadcast live each Sunday on 98.9 FM, WNBR. She was awarded the Richard VanSciver Church Music Scholarship on a competition promoted by the Metropolitan Music Ministries in Charlotte, NC, in March 2012. She was also awarded the Ona and E. Franck Ruble Scholarship from the United Methodist Church. Kris achieved the Service Playing Certificate (SPC) from the American Guild of Organists in June 2012.

She also studied conducting, harpsichord, and composition at ECU. Her functions as a Graduate Assistant nominated her the piano & organ accompanist of the St. Cecilia Singers women’s choir, accompanist for the Vocal Department, and a Recording Tech for the Fletcher Music Center, which included recording and editing concerts on CD and DVD, and live broadcasting them online. In 2012, she became a member of the ECU Chamber Singers, which toured the state of North Carolina on Spring 2012. Kris graduated from ECU in May 2013.

Latvian Brazilian transgender organist and composer Dr. Kristina Rizzotto at her home organ

Kristina holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree (DMA) from The American Organ Institute at the University of Oklahoma, where she studied under Dr. John Schwandt, and worked at the AOI organ shop for three years restoring various instruments, a unique program in the country. Dr. Rizzotto was named a member of The Diapason‘s 20 Under 30 Class of 2017, which recognizes young leaders in the fields of organ, harpsichord, carillon, and church music.

In January 2020 Dr. Rizzotto accepted the offer to become Director of Music at Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. She became a published composer after Wayne Leupold Editions published her Toccata in 2014. Kris is now a self-published composer with a special interest in writing Gebrauchsmusik for the church – sacred music composed specifically for use in worship but that can also work as concert repertoire. Notable examples include Trio on Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern and Pastorale on Amazing Grace.

Dr. Kris Rizzotto has played concerts in Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, and in 22 American states. Highlights include Rīga Dom Cathedral and Liepāja’s Holy Trinity Cathedral (largest mechanical organ in the world) in Latvia; Pelplin Cathedral International Organ Festival in Poland; Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston; Christopher Summer Festival in Vilnius, Lithuania; Basilica of the Blessed Sacrament in Buenos Aires; Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver; and two concert trips to Anchorage, Alaska.

Kristina is passionate about performing works of living composers. Composers such as Carson Cooman, Composer in Residence at Harvard University, Aivars Kalējs (Latvia), Antoine Giovannini (France), Robert Farrell (USA), Grimoaldo Macchia (Italy), and James J. Richardson (USA) have dedicated pieces to her.

Dr. Rizzotto’s YouTube channel features nearly 400 organ, piano, and choral recordings, which have been watched over 2 million times.

Kris and Dr. Clara Rizzotto married in Alaska in 2015 and are now the proud parents of three children.

Dr. Kristina Rizzotto, Dr. Clara Rizzotto, and Kristian Walter Rizzotto at home on a snowy Easter Sunday in Minnesota