Think of Brazilian music, and you probably think of the samba…
…played on instruments like the pandeiro…
…and the cuica.
But Brazil is nothing if not diverse.
And, in a favela in São Paulo, there’s a group of young people playing an altogether different kind of music.
They prefer violins, and violas and cellos.
And the melodies of Beethoven, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky.
Here’s the guy responsible for all that:
His name is Silvio Bacarelli, and he’s a Brazilian conductor.
For years, he’d harbored a dream to teach kids from underprivileged neighborhoods about the joys of classical music.
And, in 1996, he made it happen.
He went to Vila Heliópolis, São Paulo’s largest slum, and founded the Center for Music Education, now called the Instituto Bacarelli.
Eight years later, his students had progressed to the point where he was able to establish an orchestra.
He called it the Sinfônica Heliópolis, the Heliópolis Symphony Orchestra.
Some of the musicians were (and are) as young as 13.
And now, fifteen years on, many musicians he trained, kids from one of the poorest neighborhoods in all of Brazil, are earning a living as classical musicians, and performing in orchestras all over the country.
Here’s a recording from a few years ago in which the Sinfônica Heliópolis performed Beethoven’s 5th under the direction of one of the world’s greatest conductors, Zubin Mehta:
The musical portion is tagged with an interview by Mr. Mehta himself.
Leighton - Monday