Two very memorable performances

Trip Start Jul 01, 2009
Trip End Jul 12, 2009

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Flag of Brazil  , Rio de Janeiro,
Thursday, July 9, 2009

This morning was the occasion for our second community-service oriented visit, as quiet capably arranged by ACFEA.  These are opportunities to make a connection with people who normally who would not be able to attend our tour concerts, but who can inspire us with their love of music and creativity in the midst of tremendous economic obstacles.

This time we visited a special academic, arts, and sports program in the middle of one of Rio's largest slums, the Vila da Olimpica da Mare.  After a brief tour we were treated to performances by a troupe of very young ballerinas, a sensual pas de deux by two teenage dancers, and a duet from Phantom of the Opera performed with expressive vocalism by two high school age singers in spite of having to perform without accompaniment because of a CD malfunction.  The high school choir then performed several pieces with some challenging jazz harmonies, including an arrangement of "Yesterday" in their best English.  Given the lack of choral education in the culture generally, we were quite impressed with what these young singers could do under the guidance of their quite able director. 

We then came forward to sing for the assembled students sitting on bleachers in the semi-enclosed field house.  One of our selections was the last performance of "Stan Still, Jordan" - we had had to purchase a pair of bongo drums for this piece upon arrival since they were too difficult to travel with.  When we found out that the Vila had an very strong music program that could make good use of the drums, we decided to leave them with the students at the close of our performance.

That night, we performed in an absolute gem of a church - the Church of Our Lady of Carmel (the same one who inspired the church we often perform in in Doylestown!)  It was similar in many ways to the baroque churches we visited in Ouro Preto, only the interior color sceme was much simpler, and the use of paintings much more restrained and refined.  The sight and sound of the church really took our breath away, and once again ACFEA came through with a capacity audience.  Despite the usual raft of bronchial and throat congestion that afflicts about a third of the singers at this point in the tour, the combined choirs gave one of their best performances yet, with our gifted vocalists giving especially remarkable solo turns.

That night, about 2/3s of the group allowed themselves to play tourist, attending the celebrated "Samba Show" tracing the history of this African-based dance form with a truly awe-inspiring team of drummers and dancers after yet another tasty barbeque meal.   It was a very full day, but a very gratifying one - now that we had given our final performance, we still had a day and a half to enjoy the romance, sun, sand, and great food of Rio - TL
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