The Bucks County Choral Society, under the direction of Haverford associate professor of music Thomas Lloyd, and Singing City, under the direction of Jeffrey Brillhart, returned from a successful July 1-12 combined tour of Brazil. The choirs performed a program of American and Brazilian music that was previewed at the June 2009 Chorus America conference in Philadelphia.
The tour involved shared concerts with four Brazilian vocal ensembles: the Coral dos Canarinhos de PetrÃ³polis, the Juiz de Fora University Choir, the Ouro Preto University Choir, and the Renaissance male quartet Terno Vocal of Rio de Janeiro.
"One of the surprises for me on this trip was to discover how relatively weak the tradition of choral singing is in Brazil, which has such a rich musical culture otherwise, especially compared to other Latin American countries like Venezuela and Cuba, where it is much more established," says Lloyd.
"Nevertheless, the choirs we did encounter were highly motivated, we were consistently welcomed with great warmth, and our touring company, ACFEA, was able to turn out such large and enthusiastic audiences for our concerts."
As part of a cultural exchange mission, the Philadelphia area choirs also visited the Aldieias Infantis SOS Children's Village in Juiz de Fora, a supported group home setting for children from troubled homes. On the Fourth of July, the choirs received a special surprise when their hosts played the“Star Spangled Banner” while hoisting the US and Brazilian flags side by side, followed by a short fireworks display.
The group also visited a special academic, arts, and sports program in the middle of one of Rio de Janeiro's largest slums, the Vila da Olimpica da Mare. Arrangements for these collaborations were made by Associate Consultants for Education Abroad (ACFEA). â€œThese are opportunities to make a connection with people who normally who would not be able to attend our tour concerts, but who can inspire us with their love of music and creativity in the midst of tremendous economic obstacles,” says Lloyd.
In the time between performances, the group of 86 singers found time to explore the cities, beaches, historical sites, and food of Brazil. Activities included a Samba Show, a train ride through the rain forest, a visit to the national Cathedral, an African drumming lesson, and many tasty barbeques.
Lloyd says,“We all felt very fortunate that so much on this tour went so well - the music, the collaborations, the food, the schedule, the audiences - we have much to be thankful for!”
Further information and pictures can be found at http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog/tlloyd/2/tpod.html.
-Heather Harden '11