Rão Kyao, stage name of João Maria Centeno Gorjão Jorge born in Lisbon, is a Portuguese musician and composer, famous as a bamboo flute and saxophone player.
Outstanding musician, virtuous of the bamboo flute, Rão Kyao has a huge international career worldwide recognized. He has played all over the planet and recorded 30 Albums of his own. His music reflects his way of rediscovering the roots of the traditional folk Portuguese music, onfronting it to its primary sources: the Indian and Arabian music. Rão Kyao was the first musician in Portugal to obtain a Platinum Record, in 2007 he was named Official of the Order Infante D. Henrique and in 2013 he won the Carlos Paredes Award. There is no doubt that he is an irrefutable name both from Portuguese and international music from all around the globe.
During his childhood, Rão Kyao made part of various choir groups and started to study bamboo flute and saxophone. In the seventies, he made part of the bands “Status” and “The Bridge”. Then he went to France, where, during two years, he played with great names of jazz and ethnical music. He has also initiated his studies in Indian music. Its influence would be a strong mark in his entire career, creating a unique style in the Portuguese music panorama.
“Malpertius”, his first album, was well acclaimed by the public, which helped to consider him an important musician and composer. “Bambu”, released in 1977, confirmed it: critics considered it the best Portuguese music album of that year. Rão was invited to play in Yatra International Jazz Music Festival, in India. After that, he moved to Bombay to improve his knowledge of bansuri (a flute) playing style. “Goa” is the result of that learning experience.
In 1980 he recorded a live jazz album, “Live at Cascais”, at the International Jazz Festival (Cascais Jazz, in Lisbon). 1983 marked a turning point, not only in his career, but in Portuguese music as well. Fado, the traditional urban style of music, leaded Rão to record “Fado Bailado”, which turned out to be the first Portuguese music album to achieve the Platinum mark and was then multi Platinum.
In 1984 Rão went to Macau where he was invited to create an album that reflected the presence of Portugal in that territory. The result was “Macau, o Amanhecer”. In that same year, the album “Estrada da Luz”, reached, once again, the Platinum mark. 1986 was the year of “Oásis”, which was Gold Record. In the end of that year he went on tour to Brazil, country where he would then record “Danças de Rua”. This album was released in Europe, USA and Japan and it became a Gold Record.
The Portuguese folk music was rediscovered trough the album, “Viagens na Minha Terra” in 1989 and in 1992, along with Ketama, he recorded “Delírios Ibéricos”, a unique bridge between Flamenco and Portuguese music. 1999 was the last year of the Portuguese Administration in Macau, now part of China. “Macau – Junção” celebrated that event, creating a dialogue between Kyao´s flutes and the Macau Chinese Orchestra, conducted by Wong Kyn Wai.
“Fado Virado a Nascente” in 2001 was a new approach to Fado, in which the singer Teresa Salgueiro from the group “Madredeus” was one of the very special guests. Focused in another kind of Portuguese music – traditional, the following album was “Porto Alto” in 2004. Then Rão Kyao continued his work through the path of the Portuguese traditional music along with the Asian influences. In 2006 he recorded “Mondego”, in 2008 “Porto Interior” and in 2009 the double CD “Em Cantado”.
In 2011 Rão Kyao recorded “Sopro de Vida”, an album on religious chants of Portuguese composers for bamboo flutes and organ. Also in 2011, he released “Pure Light”, a meditative music CD from the project SAMADHI, a partnership with the percussionist Ruca Rebordão.
At the end of 2012, he edited the original album, “Coisas que a Gente Sente”. As its name indicates, “it expresses several original themes, with a very strong emphasis on our, Portuguese, sound in a narrow and challenging path between respect for its root and the constant desire to search for new paths whether in its composition, its interpretation or its arrangements” (Rão Kyao).
In July 2013, under the designation: “Orient.7Sóis.Orkestra“ with all the musical production led by Rão Kyao, this presentation premiered at the 21st edition of the “Sete Sóis Sete Luas” Festival. Emerged from the joint work of six prestigious artists from the different shores of the Mediterranean, with special emphasis on the musical cultures of the Orient of the Mare Nostrum: Algeria, Croatia, France, Greece, Portugal. Presented on tour in several countries in southern Europe.
In September 2013, he returns to Macau to perform in a world premiere with new compositions of his own for the Macao Chinese Orchestra in collaboration with Maestro Pang Ka Pang in the presentation of three suites called “Casas de Macau”.
On the Orchestra’s visit to Portugal in September 2014, it performed in Coimbra with these new compositions, thus maintaining the Luso-Chinese musical link on both continents.
In November 2014, he records the CD “Sopro de Vida-Maria” in the Chapel of the Convent of Santa Teresa de Jesus in Lisbon, which, in the continuation of a series started by the previous disc of liturgical music, contains themes all of them dedicated to Our Lady. It was published in 2015. This instrumental version of Marian chants was presented on the visit of Pope Francis to Portugal at the Monastery of Batalha in 2017, where a DVD was recorded that was in the same year in charge of the national DVD top, with “Recital Sopro de Live Life at Batalha Monastery”. On the Heritage Route, this recital was recently presented at the Church of the Jerónimos Monastery in May and at the Church of Santa Engrácia in the National Pantheon in October 2019.
In January 2016, the CD “Earth & Wings” Healing Dance Journey is released. With original themes, in which through this sound he wants to create “a sound journey of healing and expansion”
His most recent CD with the title “Aventuras da Alma”, again of originals, was released in May 2017.
In October 2019 Rão Kyao was invited to create a show in a Mediterranean musical triangulation made of multiple bridges and civilizational influences, between Portugal, Spain and Morocco, as part of an artistic challenge for him to join Spanish and Moroccan musicians in an unprecedented concert that hosted this year, for the first time in Portugal, the Iberian Cultural Heritage Biennial in Loulé.
In 2019, following an invitation from an organization linked to the Cultural Institute of Macau, he began to write the music for a ballet called “A Trança Feiticeira” based on the homonymous novel by Henrique de Senna Fernandes, a novel that describes the difficult and troubled relationship between a Portuguese man and a Chinese woman in the 30s of the last century.
It is to be premiered in 2020 and celebrates the twenty years of Chinese administration in Macau and the 40 years of the resumption of diplomatic relations between Portugal and China.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MEA), through the embassies of each of these countries, launched a unique initiative of Indian missions in 124 countries, for the participation of local musicians and groups. Rão Kyao created a rearrangement for the theme “Vaishnava Jana To”.
The arrangement was conceived and recorded using the bamboo flute, the Portuguese guitar, the harmonium (a family of the accordion and widely used in India) and the classical guitar. In this sequence, the Portuguese musician wanted to honor this unique figure of humanity more deeply.
In 2020, a national tour begins in India with the recital “Um Português Homageia Gandhi” in which he presents an original and unpublished repertoire composed to praise, through music, the extraordinary spiritual philosophy of this giant of humanity whose 150 years are being celebrated this year of your birth. Portugal is one of the many countries that integrate Bapu@150.
On June 8, 2007, he was made an Officer of the Order of Infante D. Henrique. In June 2010 he was decorated by the Société Académique des Arts, Sciences et Lettres de Paris.