Walter and Wagner Caldas were born in the at-risk neighborhood of Niteroi in Rio de Janeiro Brazil. The favelas, (or shantytowns built into the sides of hills) were prime territory for drug cartels to find worthy henchmen. From an early age the young boys were exposed to violence and drugs. Their father, Jonas Caldas, a stringed instrument maker, started the boys on their musical career to focus their energy on something positive. While many of their friends were out in the bloodthirsty drug trade that imprisons many young Brazilian boys, Walter and Wagner took comfort in classical music. Instead of guns, the boys reached for the violins their own father hand-made, the works of Bach and Mozart captivated their hearts.
Walter and Wagner’s mother Romelia emphasized the importance of making choices, and along with their father, kept the Twins on a different path. That path would ultimately lead to a successful music career in the US. Walter and Wagner began to receive noticeable credibility not only in their favela, but all over the city of Rio. The Grota String Orchestra, led by the Brazil Foundation, offers after school activities such as art and music. Walter and Wagner worked with this project for ten years, in which they began to help other kids by introducing classical music and helping children find assurance in music.
From Rio to Iowa
In 2006, after a performance in Rio, a woman from National Public Radio (NPR) approached the boys about an interview. Through a translator, their story was told on NPR. While the Twins made their US debut at the Brazil Foundation Gala in New York, members of the World Food Prize picked up the NPR story. Shortly thereafter, Walter and Wagner headed for the Iowa State Capital in Des Moines in October of that year. Attending, was University of Northern Iowa President Ben Allen who approached the Twins and offered them music scholarships at UNI.
Walter and Wagner have since modernized their classical roots and began to adapt their music to appeal to a wider audience. With the addition of their own unique improvisational style, the Twins have revised their repertoire, which now features everything from classical and improvisation to rock and hip-hop. They have even crafted several originals. Raw talent, combined with years of intense training, gives the Twins the ability to create amazing improvisations never before seen or heard. Audiences from all over the US, Spain, Portugal, and Brazil have been captivated and engaged when the Brothers perform. Their unique style and cutting edge adaptation makes every show different but more and more entertaining.