tales form Brazilian trip in November
Concert tour to Brasilia and Recife 11/11.
After a night flight to Brazil, Masayo Ishigure and me finally arrived in Brasilia. Someone from the Embassy had come to pick us up along Mitsuki Dazai who had already arrived earlier. We headed to the Embassy to check on the instruments and do some rehearsals for the next day.
We had a whole room to us to practice for a couple of hours. The staff was really kind and helpful. After packing the instruments for the next day, we were invited for dinner by the consul o a Churascheria.
The restaurant was beautiful place by the lake, with a lot of food in a buffet setting. The main thing though was meat. So after trying some local Caipirinha with a lot of fruits. I had been to Sao Paulo before and suggested everyone to try the Cashew fruit juice, as it is usually harder to find in the Northern Hemisphere or in NYC.
After a while, a lot of waiters came to the table with different meat s that they would cut up and serve us. It was just amazing the amount of food that was heading our way.
It was a very fun and memorable evening. It was also great to hear from our hosts how it is to live in Brasilia.
After dinner we headed back to the Hotel. The next day was our concert day so we got picked up in the morning and headed to the space.
The building was a new theatre, great space; the only problem is that as it was so new, lighting had not been set up yet.
So we only had neon lighting/ work lights as stage lighting- the audience had actually better lighting. There was enough light, it is just that it was not really stage lighting.
Some ikebana sensei were already setting up a whole installation in the back- which turned out pretty amazing and made the stage look beautiful with more local plants and flowers in front of the golden Byoubu.
Though the sound seemed ok, we asked for some microphones as they were setting them up.
We were going back and forth between using them or not, so we decided to do the traditional first part without and then in the second part to use the mics for the more modern music.
That night the audience was very receptive, it looked like a full house, with people also on the balcony. I am used to taiko concert and performing a lot around the world- Hogaku tends to be quieter, but despite of that I always have an encore piece ready just in case. We also later decided to play in kimono for the whole concert and not change in western cloth for the second modern part, as audience members probably would prefer to see us play in traditional Japanese costumes.
SO I encouraged Masayo Ishigure to think about one.
After the concert, the announcer thanked everyone but it seemed the audience wanted to hear more so indeed we did one more piece, which was an improvisation on Sakura that was very well received.
We had not set up any Cd in the front as was requested. So after the end, the announcer said that we did have Cds and would sell them by the side of the stage for those interested.
We also let some people try the koto out.
I unfortunately can’t let people play my flutes because of obvious reasons. I later though got some plastic flutes that I was able to let people play in Recife.
As Masayo and Dazai san were busy showing people how to play the koto, I was in front of the stage with the CD. People started coming to me and looking at the cd, the whole turned almost into market place, everybody seemed to want a cd and we ran out of cd pretty quickly- that night we sold 70 CDs which is a rare occurrence these days especially for this type of music.
It was great to feel the energy of the audience and their excitement and comments.
A lot of people were new to it or had never heard it in this way- they were rediscovering the music or the genre. It was all very flattering. I got to meet one Nikkei member of the Brazilian Parliament towards the end when we had almost no Cd- he so wanted to buy Cds that we arranged for him to pick them up at the Embassy- I had left some in my hotel room, never thinking I would be selling that many.
Later we joined audience member at the cocktail party in the lobby and again got to meet a lot of people and talk about the music or different subjects. It was really a great evening for us and it seemed the audience members thoroughly enjoyed themselves, some children were also in the audience and they seemed taken by the music and stayed throughout the concert.
The trip to Brasilia seemed all too fast. The next day was already time for us to leave.
I had requested to stop over by the cathedral and so the person in charge took us for a little round of Brasilia before heading to the airport.
It was a very memorable trip and we think that our goal of making people discover a new music or culture but also getting them excited about it succeeded.
I was looking forward to Recife as I knew it was in the North and the weather would be warmer- I am avid swimmer and I was all excited about swimming in the ocean. When we arrived in Recife, the consulate people took us to the hotel. One for the first thing that was mentioned was that the beach was dangerous as there were many sharks and that we should only swim on the protected areas or coves.
We headed first to the hotels to unload the luggage and then take the instruments to the consulate- we also were given a room to practice.
The program was set so that we almost only played most songs only once and each concert had a different program for each of the shows in Recife, so we had a lot of songs to revise and go through as we had three concerts.
The consul in Recife was very friendly and even invited us to use his office to rehearse- we though a small room that was available in the middle of the consulate. After having a meeting about our concerts in Recife with the Consul and the staff we headed to dinner. I had been told about a great local restaurant that served Bahian food in a Buffet style, which was great as you could actually see what was available instead of looking at a menu and not understanding what was ordered. Again we had a great dinner that night on our won.
The next day’s concert was a local music school in the daytime.
Space was very tight, so we had not much space to place the kotos.
We did a shorter program that day for some musical festival.
Again we had a full house and a lot of people standing, there was some movement – some new people coming in.
We did some tradtional and some modern pieces so that the audience would get a sense of the different type of music that is played on the koto and the shakuhachi.
We also were able after the concert to sell some cds and talk with audience members after they got a chance to play the koto.
As it was a festival, we had to clear the stage for the next group and did not have too much time.
We later got back to the hotel after packing up.
The next was a free day and we were invited for a visit of Linda and the city with the consul and his wife.
In the Morning we visited the old city of Olinda on the hill North of Recife and had a beautiful meal on a terrace in the old town. On the menu was a delicious local specialty of a sort of pumpkin cooked in the oven with seafood in a cream sauce cooked inside. After lunch, we continued our visit of the city with the consul.
We visited a museum and an old prison turned in to a tourist artscraft shopping mall. It was a fun day and it the consul and his wife were full of anecdotes about the city.
We had some time at the end of the day before a big dinner with all the performers of the next day’s festival.
As the consul asked what we wanted to do, we asked to go to a supermarket to do some shopping.
The consul took us to the market and shopped with us, we were almost embarrassed to have him shop with us, but he seemed very amused and said he was used to it with his wife. The consul really knew how to make people comfortable and the whole day was a very fun filled day.
We were planned to go to a sushi restaurant, but the location seemed congested because of a soccer game victory of the team from Recife. The consul then decided to hold the party at a chruscheria. We got to meet the folk dancers from San Paulo.
Another fun filled evening with lots of food – it seems that is another great things of Brazil.
The next day we had an early start. We headed to the Japanese festival stage in downtown Recife. We started setting up for the concert. We had two stages one earlier on and the other later in the evening.
It was a windy stage and it was hard to keep the music on the stands. I tried to tape by music to the stand or to cardboard to keep it from moving to and though it was not working fully saved me from running after my music during the performance.
That day turned out to be a milder day, so it was not as hot as we thought it would be.
After the opening ceremony, we had our first set. We had a few problems with the microphones and it took a little longer to set them up and make sure we were getting enough sound.
Some of the staff had showed some interest in the shakuhachi, I had just gotten some PVC shakuhachi from one of my students in Southern Brazil and so I was able to teach them some basics of the shakuhachi, so during some free time- they go to learn how to play backstage.
It would be great to have also some open workshops for community people during those concert tours, or lessons available for those interested.
I have been teaching in Sao Paulo the last three years and noticed that there is quite an interest in Brazil for the shakuhachi (as some teachers are present in Sa Paulo).
The crowds were quite large at the festival and after doing a round of the stands we headed back to the hotel.
I got to go swimming for a third time; I would usually go to the beach in the morning before the concerts.
The evening performance was pretty thrilling; by then the crowds in the downtown area were huge- it was very hard to get through to the stage. We got to perform some other songs, we changed our program a little to match the louder crowd and try no to do too many quiet pieces.
The audience seemed very appreciative, I wish I had my taiko with me and probably that would have been a better setting for me to do taiko and Shinobue on that stage.
We sold a few CDs, it’s always harder to get peoples full attention in outside festival stages. Masayo and I had run out of Cds. Mitsuki was the only one who had some cds left and who was trying to sell them.
After a full day, we headed back to the hotel, were we got ready for a long trip back to NYC.
We were able to refresh before heading out for our red eye flight to Sao Paulo.
We thanked everyone and headed to the airport.
Again the staff in Recife as well as in Brasilia was so kind and helpful, it made the whole trip and concert so much easier.
This was a very memorable trip to Brazil. I will always be thankful for the Japan Foundation to make this concert tour possible.