Youth, music, and education

Other than performing, most of our evenings this week since Monday has been going to the local conservatory to listen, teach, and play for the students, ranging in age from 8 to 24, even adults! Our first evening at the city conservatory was with beginner students who had played violin for 1-3 years.

Afterwards, we went to the state university to pick up an item, but heard a chamber orchestra rehearsing some Vivaldi. Poked our heads in, and sure enough, a group of students and teacher that we had met in the days before. One of the young cellists, Raphael, we met at a small local music center last week; we would see him and his cellist friends much more on our trip!

Tuesday, Grandma Cora took us two a couple of municipal museums. The amazing thing is, she is so well established in the city’s history that each place opens their doors for us and greets her specially! In fact, in one room, some of the photos of citizens past which were unidentified, suddenly were pointed out by her as family friends and such… hard to believe, but we were in for the VIP tour!

Tuesday night’s master class was for students with a wide-range of skills. A few cellists, all the rest violinists. We had beginners who were learning their bow-grip to some of our new friends playing Saint-Saens and Bach Suites on the cello. The surprising part? We ended up listening and critiquing at this master class from 5 to 10 pm! It was exciting to see the evening start with a string quartet playing Haydn’s “Emperor” quartet (No. 3 of his Op. 76 set)

On the nights we were at the conservatory, I looked around and saw a variety of young people, who were dressed in just as wide a variety of clothes, seemingly spanning a spectrum of social and economical backgrounds. But they were all gathered here. When school is out and the streets are dark, it becomes a safe place with a carefully monitored entrance gate. The complex is fenced off from the streets, allowing for a large yard area, practice rooms, class rooms… it’s great. I have to admit, the first day I saw a few of the teenagers, I had to wonder, “so they’re into music? Classical instruments?” But they’ve proved quite extraordinary for some of the young minds we’ve encountered. They love this stuff! Aside from playing futebol in the daytime and going to class, some of them aspire to specialize in a music university abroad. Some talk to their friends about Haydn Concertos and Bach Suites like someone getting a new present. Some can’t stop talking about their experience with their instrument so far. Many have questions about the future.

After it was our turn to play for them, we fielded any questions from the big group that had gathered in the classroom over the last 4 or so hours. The end of the night brought a flurry of photo-taking, hugs and e-mail exchanges. Some of the new friends we made (that kept following us everywhere) were Isac (top left), Raphael (top right), Paulo who had wonderful English learned from Ireland, and others. There’s also Karen with the cellists, and then a group picture with some of them afterwards.

(Point of information: The boys following us around were really just following Karen around. Her and all the glory of her whiteness. And bleached blond hair. I think she got a mixed tape CD with some Mozart, Bach, or something rather… You should try walking down the streets of Brazil with her. Can you say enamored? I’m serious.)


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