It was a cold, rainy evening at Sacred Heart University (SHU) on Feb. 22. Some on campus might have heard the crackling of a drizzling rain or the whistle of a cold wind, but for those in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, they heard nothing but the warm melodies of Brazil.
Anat Cohen and Marcelo Goncalves, two Grammy-nominees, treated the SHU community to an intimate concert featuring selections from their past albums, and a look ahead at upcoming projects.
Professor Joe Carter, Director of Academic Music Programs at SHU, spoke about bringing the concert to campus.
“They came to the university to play three years ago,” said Carter. “Right before we shut down because of Covid. They had done a recording that I really enjoyed, and I went to one of their performances, introduced myself, and said ‘if you’re ever back in Connecticut, I’d love to have you come back to the university and play.’”
Carter said he is always looking for new and exciting artists to bring to campus that showcase the diverse music of the world. It’s part of his attempts to broaden the musical palette of his students.
“There are other organizations in the school who present concerts,” Carter said. “So I’m thinking about what they bring in and who I’m able to bring in, and I want to give the students a cross-section of things.”
After Cohen and Goncalves’ initial performance in February of 2020, plans were already in motion for their return. Come March, however, the world was hit by the pandemic, putting their return on an indefinite hold.
Carter remained in contact with Cohen and Goncalves throughout the pandemic and about five months ago asked the artists, both residents of Brazil, when they would be able to return to SHU. Schedules aligned, and they settled on Feb. 22.
After the concert’s introduction from Carter, Cohen and Goncalves emerged from backstage to excited applause, their respective instruments in hand.
“We’re grateful for people like you,” Cohen said. “People like you who seek this out, who appreciate this shared experience of live music.”
They each took a breath, looked at one another with a smile and the concert began.
Cohen, a clarinetist the New York Times refers to as a “revelation,” earned a hearty applause after every solo she performed. Goncalves, playing the seven string violão, a Brazilian-style seven string guitar, provoked many in the audience to tap their feet and sway in their seats, ebbing and flowing with the music.
“We were last here about three years ago, it feels more like 20,” said Cohen. “We don’t take being on this stage for granted.”
“It’s such a pleasure to be here. Thank you,” said Goncalves.
Apart from their immense talent, Cohen and Goncalves performing Brazillian standards is part of why Carter wanted them to come to campus.
“Diversity is important in all areas, but especially with music,” said Carter. “I start my courses by telling students that I’m going to play them music they normally wouldn’t have an opportunity to hear. And to me, that’s the college experience. Broadening horizons. Music is the best way to do that.”
“Reconvexo,” the latest collaboration from Cohen and Goncalves, is available on CD, Vinyl, and Spotify.