|View of Dona Marta from the Botafogo neighborhood|
|The view from the top of Dona Marta|
|Dona Marta Favela|
|The UPP station, home of the Dona Marta nucleo|
The Dona Marta nucleo was founded in 2009. The students are divided into two groups, with about 60 currently in the beginners group and 40 in the more advanced group. During the three days a week they have classes, they each have sectionals and orchestra rehearsals. About 15% of the students who have the potential and the desire take a track with the goal of becoming professional musicians and/or teachers. These students are awarded a small stipend and take classes in theory and ear training.
|The advanced orchestra in rehearsal at the Dona Marta nucleo|
|In Dona Marta, a dog sleeps on the edge|
|Petrobras Symphony Orchestra and the Rio Symphonic|
Choir in the Municipal Theater
While the Petrobras Symphony concert was fabulous, there is one thing that really irked me. It is called the Petrobras Symphony because it was founded and is funded by Petrobras, the Brazilian state-owned oil company, which is the largest company in Latin America, hauling in $137 billion (US dollars) a year. They are a huge patron of the arts here and you see their name and logo at nearly ever every art-related thing around. But, beyond even the obvious massive polluting of the air with carbon dioxide from all the oil it was distributed, it has a horrendous history of major oil spills. Their concert programs proudly displayed themselves as carbon-neutral, as well as a CD recording of a Brazilian opera that Marcelo has let me borrow that was recorded by the orchestra. It seems these eco-friendly gestures are just a way of trying to clean up their image, akin to US oil companies running TV commercials taking about how they are investing in developing cleaner forms of energy. I actually have a composer friend who currently has received a commission to write his first symphony, which I'm sure will be an excellent piece and it's a fantastic opportunity for him, but the commission is partly funded by ExxonMobil. If I were presented that opportunity, I don't know if I could accept dirty oil money for my music. But then again, El Sistema in Venezuela has been heavily subsidized by the Venezuelan oil industry under the past decade or so under Hugo Chavez, as has basically every social program in Venezuela. I'm not sure what to think.
The next night, I returned to the theater to hear the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra's concert. They began by playing the Brazilian National Anthem as everybody stood up and most sung along. I was pretty impressed with the audience's singing, good diction and on key, yet not overly enthusiastic or loud. It was interesting to watch, as I didn't know the words to sing along. The rest of the program consisted of a fabulous "Concert Romanesc" by György Ligeti, a fun yet unspectacular premiere of a guitar concerto, played by a flamboyant Yamandu Costa, who the audience absolutely loved, Ottorino Resphigi's "Brazilian Impressions" which I'd never heard but set my expectations too high for, and then a powerful performance of Heitor Villa-Lobos's Bachianas Brasileiras No. 7.
I will be visiting more of the ASM nucleos this week and I have it set to arrive in my next city, Campos dos Goytacazes to work with "Orquestrando a Vida" (Orchestrating Life) in two weeks for a two month stay working with them.