Dr. Pitagoras Gonçalves met his wife Cleusía during choir practice at the university they attended in Brazil. When they discovered they both knew the Lord and both loved music, brief conversations turned into long lunches after practice. Six years after they met, they said, “I do,” never dreaming all that the Lord had in store for them over their next twenty years of marriage.
“Music has always been a part of my life,” said Dr. Pitagoras Gonçalves. “My oldest memories have music in them.” When he was four years old, he gave his first public piano recital, playing a Brazilian children’s song in his teacher’s studio.
His love for piano continued to grow into what he called an “emotional experience,” something that defined who he would be as an adult and what he would do with his life. “God can show us His will through emotional experiences,” he said, “but there is a big difference between a dream and an illusion.”
In his teaching, Pitagoras reminds students that accomplishing a dream means working diligently and practicing for many hours, often focusing on all of the small details until the musical score is performed perfectly. “If a student wants to quit after failing a couple of tests or performances, then becoming a professional musician or music teacher was most likely just an illusion.”
For Dr. Cleusía Gonçalves, attention to detail and diligence in practice were keys that unlocked her own musical journey. At fifteen, she fell in love with choral music and conducting after accompanying her church choir; but after her father passed away in a tragic accident, she began to think her dream of studying music would never come true.
“What has impressed me the most through my life and through hard times has been God’s sovereignty—above all. He knows us and deals with our struggles and weaknesses and each aspect of our lives,” she said. “Because of that, I have learned to persist despite difficulties, knowing that the Lord is taking care of everything, and everything will work together for our good.”
God continued to take care of everything, guiding them to talk to PCC Artists-in-Residence Dr. and Mrs. Alberto Jaffé about pursuing master’s degrees. “We knew God was leading us to come to the U.S. for further training and the experience of studying abroad,” said Cleusía. “The Lord worked out the move and transition, and in 1999, we came to PCC for a master’s degree in music: Pitagoras in piano, studying with Mrs. Jaffé, and I in voice, studying with Artist-in-Residence Dr. Ann Gibbs.”
After completing their master’s degrees, they planned to pursue doctorates immediately; but the Lord worked in their hearts, and instead of earning another degree, they decided to stay at PCC to teach music.
“It is very rewarding to teach piano and organ private lessons because I get to know my students more personally,” said Pitagoras. “I love teaching music, and my goal is to make musical complexity more accessible and easier to learn for all of my students.”
While he works one-on-one with students, his wife enjoys conducting performing groups and teaching conducting classes. “It is a great joy for me to see how the students change through the course of their four years at PCC,” she said. “My desire is to inspire them to appreciate music and truly praise the Lord through it. When I see this happening, I think I am doing what I was called to do, and it makes me happy.”
As they continued to follow the Lord’s leading, they both felt impressed to earn a Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) degree. “It was always my desire to complete my academic career with a D.M.A. in music,” said Cleusía. “Being so involved at PCC with many responsibilities and opportunities, and with children, I thought it would be hard to accomplish or nearly impossible. I am so glad and thankful that the Lord allowed us to complete it.”
After earning their degrees, the Gonçalves continue to see the Lord open doors for them. Pitagoras has recently received a U.S. patent for the first software in the world capable of evaluating expressiveness while a student practices piano. The program is something he has been inventing and developing for years.
“That first dream of playing the piano when I was four sparked my curiosity, leading me to pursue music a little further, which led me to study it more, which daily leads me to want to share it by teaching or performing it,” he said. “I am glad I have the opportunity along with my wife to share the music the Lord allowed us to develop here at PCC.”