Hard of hearing music alumnus presents Silent Garden Lecture on ‘Embodied Sound’

With Madonna in the CD player and the volume maxed, the subwoofer drove expanding orbs of pressure that moved the room. Lying on the floor, a young Ethan Castro felt the waves vibrate through him and envelope his core, igniting a passion that would guide his life’s path. 

Doctors said Castro, who was born with significant hearing loss, could be successful in just about any career except music. But he learned to experience sound beyond his ears, turning listening into a whole-body perception. With listening muted, he developed a feeling of sound that led him to start two businesses in the music industry and break new ground in sound technology. Through that vibration he felt on the floor as a child, he now redefines how people can experience audio, creating a holistic musical experience.

Castro — a Fresno State alumnus, University of California, Riverside Ph.D. candidate and multiple business owner —  doctor of audiology Sheri Mello as the keynote speakers at the 11th annual Silent Garden Lecture on Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Satellite Student Union at Fresno State. 

Registration is free and open to the public, but the continuing education units through the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, the Board of Evaluation of Interpreters, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association or Fresno State are $35. Parking is suggested in Lots P15 or P6 and is free on weekends.

Silent Garden Lecture schedule:

  • 8:30 a.m. — Welcome
  • 8:45 a.m. — Panel discussion moderated by Ethan Castro
  • 9:45 a.m. — Ethan Castro keynote “Embodied sound for music appreciation”
  • 11:45 a.m. — Break
  • 1:15 p.m. — Panel discussion moderated by Dr. Sheri Mello
  • 2:15 p.m. — Dr. Sheri Mello keynote “What is that noise in my head?”
  • 4:15 p.m. — Closing ceremony

Mello’s talk, “What is that noise in my head,” will explore her work as the owner of a private audiology practice in Raleigh, North Carolina, and how her lived experience with tinnitus allows her to relate to her patients on a personal level.

In Castro’s talk, “Embodied Sound for Music Appreciation,” he will discuss his patent-pending audio technology, which incorporates hearing and feeling through micro-vibrations to enhance the experience of sound. 

Castro pursued his passion for music at Fresno State, earning his bachelor’s degree in music theory and composition before achieving an M.A. at California State University, Northridge in music industry administration and is now a Ph.D. candidate in digital composition at the University of California, Riverside. While at Riverside, he formed the Experimental Acoustical Research Studio Student Group (EARS), a local interdisciplinary collaboration dedicated to advancing new multi-disciplinary approaches to sound in electroacoustic music and multimedia with all students. 

In 2019, he cofounded EDGE Sound Research, Inc., based on his invention of a system to translate sound into vibrations to enhance communication with Deaf/hard of hearing individuals and those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

In honor of their son Ethan and all that he has accomplished, Desiree and Emmett Castro established the Ethan Emmett Castro Hard of Hearing Endowment in the Silent Garden at Fresno State with a donation of $244,119. The endowment supports programming and community outreach for the hard of hearing.

“Ethan is an excellent example of what happens when a timely intervention is applied. Not only has he been able to finish all levels of education, but he has also thrived with honors,” said Desiree Castro, nutritionist and retired Deaf and hard of hearing teacher. “This endowment is meant to help to educate and empower hard of hearing children, individuals and their parents to have access to information, resources and community support.”

Desiree’s husband, Emmett, president and certified public accountant of Castro Accountancy Corporation, said charitable giving has been the backbone of their marriage. “The endowment was established to create awareness of how a child with lifelong hearing challenges could take such a situation and not let it define them.”

Founded in 2008, the Silent Garden is a series of unique programs in the College of Health and Human Services that provides free educational conferences and resources to support D/deaf and hard of hearing individuals, families, teachers and other professionals working in the Central California region. This year’s lecture is sponsored by the Fresno State College of Health and Human Services, the Laurence W. Levine Foundation and the Ethan Emmett Castro Hard of Hearing Endowment in the Silent Garden.

“This endowment will allow us to proactively reach out to adults and seniors dealing with hearing loss. We feel honored to have the opportunity to be a resource for them,” said Dr. Paul Ogden, professor emeritus and founder of the Silent Garden. “In addition to sharing Ethan’s groundbreaking journey with the experience of music for the deaf and hard of hearing, the endowment this year will provide resources to address tinnitus, a difficult ailment to treat.”

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Fresno State College of Arts and Humanities Communication Specialist

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