Reflection: Brazilian Choro Music at Queens College

I love hip-hop; I like pop, alt, and rock; I appreciate classical, and I can, in fact, tolerate country. Ultimately, I’m pretty open-minded, and I’ll listen to just about anything once – anything, that is, except for Justin Bieber.

However, my favorite genre is, and always will be, salsa. La Lupe, Marc Anthony, Celia Cruz, La India, Tito Puente, Hector Lavoe – these are my idols, my teachers.

Salsa, for me, is soul-music – it strengthens me, inspires me, and challenges me. Salsa is my childhood, my grandmother, my summers and my winters; salsa is rose-tone, a trumpet, a fire, and drums, drums, drums. Ultimately, salsa permeates every aspect of my work – it is my cadence, my flesh-rhythm.

Lately, I’ve been exploring other types of Latin music; I want to broaden my horizons. Thus, I’ve dipped my toes into bachata, and I am now absolutely obsessed with cumbia. However, I am woefully ignorant of Brazilian music – or, better put, I was woefully ignorant of Brazilian music until the night of November 20.

Indeed – that night, I attended the Ernesto Nazareth 150th Birthday Tribute, a Queens College Year of Brazil Event. Here, I got a taste of Brazilian music – and what a taste it was!

Ernesto Nazareth. Image from wikipedia.com.

Ernesto Nazareth. Image from wikipedia.com.

Ernesto Nazareth (1863 -1934) was a Brazilian composer and pianist; he is best known for his choro compositions. His influences were many – he drew from African, European, and American traditions.

He served, during his lifetime, at the boundary between classical and popular worlds; now, his repertoire is a critical part of any Brazilian’s musical training. The Tribute, then, was an eclectic mix of Nazareth’s compositions – a primer of sorts on choro, Nazareth, and on the vibrant foundations of Brazilian music.

The New School Brazilian Choro Ensemble was simply fantastic; they played with sensitivity, with silvery quickness and heat. The music is itself fascinating – florid, yet languid, and absolutely ripe with improvisational wit. It is a music of mixing, of webs and crossings and meeting places; it is Brazil as rhythm, as the furtive plucking of strings.

The Ensemble. From qc.cuny.edu.

The Ensemble. From qc.cuny.edu.

On my way home, I wondered: how would I incorporate this beguiling new rhythm into my work? How would it mix with my internal salsa? I am not sure; nevertheless, I am inspired, energized, and excited. Also, I am incredibly excited about the Year of Brazil – there is much, much more to come.┬áTo learn more about the Year of Brazil at Queens College, click here; to see a calendar of events, click here.

Choro, like Brazil, and like Queens, is a mixture, a rhythm, and a movement; I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s in store.

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For more information about Ernesto Nazareth, click here.

For more information about choro, click here.

For more information about The New School Brazilian Choro Ensemble, click here.

Looking for an excuse to stop studying? Look no further!

Tired of studying?

Need some art in your life?

Never fear – there’s plenty do to in Queens this weekend!

Oh Bernice! Reading Series: This charming, intimate, and always interesting reading series is currently housed at the Astoria Bookshop. Come by, sit down, and listen to some great words! The Series, by the way, is the brainchild of students from our very own MFA program.

When: Saturday, 7PM.

Art of Ink in America 2013/14: This exhibit is currently housed at our very own Godwin-Ternbach museum! Stop by during a study break and let your eyes feast on the ink paintings! I, for one, will definitely be visiting.

When: Study breaks! Check the website for museum times.

Two Solo Shows at The Greenpoint Gallery: I know, I know; Greenpoint is not in Queens. However, it’s very close – and The Greenpoint Gallery is absolutely fantastic! Take a break from your toils and soak up some fascinating art at this neighborhood favorite.

When: Friday; doors open at 8PM.

Have any other suggestions? Let me know! And remember – there’s always time for art, even during finals!