Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Choro Conversations

Brazilian choro was for a long time an unfamiliar musical phenomenon outside Brazil. Few available music recordings of original Brazilian choro, even less printed music and only scattered articles in popular or academic journals from Portuguese-speaking researchers and writers have been the usual approach of other nations' knowledge of choro. In fact, it is only within the last 10 years that there has finally been released a survey of choro music history in English. The basic description of the story of choro in English was made public accessible with the release of the excellent 'Choro - A Social History of a Brazilian Popular Music' by T.E. Livingston-Isenhour & T.G.C. Garcia in 2005 (Indiana University Press).
At the same time Mika Kaurismäki's documentary on choro, 'Brasileirinho', was released and presented a fascinating filmed view of the contemporary choro scene in Rio including interviews with musicians and live recording of choro music performance - a great documentation of a rich musical tradition and its contemporary practitioners recorded in 2002 on location in Rio and released worldwide in 2005.
A little later the Brazilian flutist, Daniel Dalarossa, founded the Global Choro Music company with offices in both the U.S. and Brazil aiming to spread the knowledge of choro by providing commercial publications of highly qualified arrangements of play-along choro music sheet including original CD recordings of the material designated for musicians interested in learning to play choro - a giant step to spread the knowledge of choro and choro practise among musicians worldwide.

Daniel Dalarossa & Julie Koidin
Daniel Dalarossa also took the initiative to publish another major contribution to contemporary choro. In 2011, the American flutist, Julie Koidin, published a series of interviews in Portuguese with choro musicians and other personages, all with connections to choro in Brazil, in her book 'Os Sorrisos do Choro' printed and published by Global Choro Music, and next, in 2013, the translation in English with the close assistance of Daniel Dalarossa, 'Choro Conversations -  Pursuing Life, Love and Brazil's Musical Identity', also was published by Global Choro Music.
The printed English version of 'Choro Conversations' contains more than 500 pages in a paperback format and registers the live story of choro through 52 interviews with a broad range of characters involved with choro from Rio to Brasília and from the Northeast to São Paulo. In 2002, Julie Koidin started her research for this project with the assistance of a  Fulbright lecture-research grant.

Julie Koidin, (Press photo)
Chicago born flutist, Julie Koidin, is a professional musician and music teacher. She traveled to Brazil for the first time in 1997 and has since returned eighteen times to research choro, perform, and give masterclasses throughout the country. A detailed career profile is available here
In her introduction of the book Julie Koidin gives an account of how she personally got involved with choro and Brazil through a string of coincidences that led to her first visit to Brazil and a lasting friendship with world renowned flutist Altamiro Carrilho, who became her personal teacher and guide into the choro community. Then follows the main part of the book with interviews of characters from Rio, Brasilia, Fortaleza, Natal, Recife and São Paulo.

Each interview is framed by a contextual review of the circumstances of the interview, and all interviews follow a structure of questions setting out to clear the family background of the interviewed, his or her introduction to choro, influences and what instrument was chosen as a musician, how and when the learning process started and progressed. Further, also questions about the attitude of the interviewed to choro as a music genre or style and its contemporary and future situation. Finally also the question about which single choro composition the interviewed would prefer bringing with him or her if having to be living on a desert island for the rest of life. This approach to all interviewed generates a lot of interesting (- sometimes contradicting) answers, anecdotes and facts that provide the reader of the book with a lot of useful and entertaining knowledge about choro as perceived by its living practioners at the time of the interview. 

The book is an excellently written oral documentation of the state of art in the choro community of Brazil on the threshold of this millennium and the 500 plus pages are easy to overcome. The reader is engaged by the personal engagement and involvement with the subject shown off on every page and all the way through the book by both the interviewer and the interviewed individuals. - The book moreover has a detailed index, bibliography and notes to each interview and a glossary in English of frequently quoted Portuguese words, concepts and phrases with affinity for choro and Brazilian institutions.

As an important supplement to the above mentioned pioneering work in English on choro history by T.E. Livingston-Isenhour & T.G.C. Garcia, Julie Koidin's magnificent book of interviews undoubtedly will help new readers to better understand and appreciate choro as both a genuine Brazilian phenomenon and as an expression of a cultural identity that involves a community founded on mutual understanding, accept and friendship. Recommended, definitly!

The book is available for purchase here or by contacting Global Choro Music, here



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