An Evening of Choro in the Chapel

The World of Music Festival was held on Nov. 15 in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit. The concert called “An Evening of Choro with Zé Seis Cordas e Os Quarto Batutas” featured Prof. Joe Carter, the faculty director of Academic Music Programs, playing the guitar.

The concert also featured musician Tim Moran on woodwinds, educator and musician Leco Reis on bass and Brazilian-American percussionist, guitarist, composer and singer Nanny Assis on percussion.

“When I present the concerts, it would say ‘Sponsored by the Academic Music Program.’ But it’s because I have the support of the School of Communications, the President and everyone above me. If that support wasn’t there, these concerts wouldn’t be happening,” said Carter.

There were 150 students, faculty and people from the surrounding community gathered in the Chapel during the concert. Carter performed seven songs that were inspired by the music with its jazz, African and American roots. All the songs were in Portuguese, including “Recita de Samba” by Jacob do Bandolim and “Lamentos” by Pixinguinha.

“It’s more about the song and it’s more about the form of the song that allows me to interpret the music in a certain way, as it gives me the freedom to interpret the music,” said Carter. “When I’m playing these songs, I’m not playing them strictly like a choro musician. I’m able to put in my background.”

According to Saint Paul Sunday, an American radio publication, choro originates from the late 19th century in Rio de Janeiro. It is a form of instrumental Brazilian music that includes African, jazz and samba rhythms. It also incorporates European dance music, including genres of polka, waltz and mazurka.

Saint Paul Sunday also described choro as played on a 6-7 string guitar and other string instruments. It can also be played on the percussion, clarinet or flute. Brazilian music is often played on a solo instrument.

Prof. Darren Litzie, an adjunct instructor in the Department of Music, said, “One specific aspect of the music that I find interesting is how the harmony often shifts back and forth from major to minor, meaning you’ll be listening to a choro song that has a happy and bright mood, then it suddenly sounds dark and sad, then back to bright again. As a jazz musician, I also enjoy the improvisation that is sometimes heard in the music.”

Presenting Brazilian culture within Sacred Heart University is important due to the interactions and traditions Americans have with the heritage as the culture is represented in the United States.

Carter believes including Brazilian culture is a tough endeavor, but the easiest way is to start with performing arts, literature and food.

“The food, the music, the people. I never stayed in an American hotel. I only had an apartment. And I tried to be immersed in the culture, learning a bit of the language but learning what it meant to be in Rio,” said Carter.

Brazilian choro music has a combination of melodies from Europe, Africa and North America. It is also a music genre that has diverse pieces that influence a new perspective on dance, musicians and the audience.

“Choro is a fascinating style of music because it combines elements from different cultures. We hear intricate European-influenced melodies and harmonies along with catchy and danceable rhythms that come from Africa,” said Litzie.

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