AmaZonArt: Changing Lives through Music
The Love (Pt-Br. Ama) for Sound (Pt-Br. Zon) and Art
A presentation of the AmaZonArt youth orchestra and its dream to keep offering education to the Brazilian ribeirinhos and each underprivileged community in the world. Diego Carneiro, founder of the orchestra, has accepted the invitation to collaborate through the «circe :the black cut:» project.
Born in the Amazon Region of Brazil, Diego Carneiro -founder of the AmaZonArt orchestra- is considered one of the most creative and virtuoso Brazilian cellists of his generation. He started playing the ‘cello and the piano at the age of 12 and he has studied in the Columbia Missouri University (US ), Trinity College of Music (London, UK) and the Conservatoire of Lausanne (Switzerland). He has given numerous concerts in major venues around the world and has won many prizes and awards. Both as a soloist and a chamber musician he loves collaborating with several artists and he is being attending and giving masterclasses and seminars.
Diego’s brief introduction could make someone think of an artist difficult to reach or get in touch with. It is true it is not quite easy to have an international chat with him, due to his constant traveling to many countries; from Brazil to London, US to Ecuador, Mexico to Switzerland and so on. However, I always remember Diego as one of the most friendly people in Trinity College of Music, where we both studied during the same period, in London. Diego is indeed a passionate musician, who sees no boarders in the arts and his influences. Great names of the venues he has performed in, have only been used as a ticket to spread his Brazilian Amazonian traditional and folk roots to a wider extend. His love for Nature -such as the ‘bird calls‘ element in his compositions, “The Music of the Rain Forest” BBC Radio 4 documentary participation and the “Amazonia, the Resounding Jungle” documentary own production- is only a part of his effort to present the importance of planet Earth’s natural sources and living beings’ lessons that can offer to the Man.
A few years ago, I luckily happened to find Diego again through the internet and I discovered a remarkable dream of his, which has managed to gradually bring in life. In 2009 he founded the AmaZonArt educational youth orchestra aiming to give a better education to underprivileged communities in different areas in the world and create a cultural exchange among them, as well as a network which has consequently resulted in a positive impact/change in those communities.
As Diego notes. “Confucius once said that a strong state has a noble music… The concept started when I was 12 years ago, when I had just started learning music and it is based on the idea that music improves human beings, their in-between relations, their countries, and therefore, it should be shared not only in theaters, but also in underprivileged communities; and as a consequence we should have a better world. This simple idea also grew to the necessity of reinforcing the oral and local music tradition which is being passed over the generations. Our first step was realised in July 2005 when we created a “rabeca” orquestra (orchestra). Rabeca is a traditional type of a rustic violin, used to play dances in some Amazonian local festivals and, particularly in Bragança city. Master Ari Monteiro Araujo is a special and talented man, who made the instruments and inspired the whole process with the aspiration to save the local tradition from disappearing, as well as to give children who live in poor conditions, a better life, providing music and social inclusion. Soon after that, I donated a cello of mine and that became the first cello of the history of Bragança. The orchestra started to grow and the dream became true. And that was the moment that the necessity of an international Call for attention came and thus, the AmaZonArt orchestra was founded in London, in 2009. Its name is formed by three different words: Ama (Love in Portuguese), Zon (Som /Sound in Portuguese) and Art…”
How is the orchestra funded?
“We mainly work with volunteer work and partnerships which facilitates our work. We also organise a series of monthly fund-raising concerts, held in London that generate a bit of support, although it depends on how many people attend each concert. On the other hand, since it is just the beginning, AmaZonArt has been getting international prizes, private sponsors, donations, and partnerships, which helps us fund some of our necessities. Obviously, lack of funding has been our biggest issue and major difficulties derive from it.”
Have you seen any improvement at the areas you are visiting to teach, for the “riberinho” community?
“I have been visiting the rebeirinho communities for the past 12 years. Starting with solo performances and ensemble performances from different countries, it is gradually growing to a caravan of volunteers most of them non musicians, who want to help, share and learn. Some of them have stayed with ribeirinhos families for months and not only have they helped them rebuild their houses, but also have given them more structure to develop their products, or have even given them some publicity (magazines, blogs, etc.) in other countries. One of the results to be mentioned is that one of the ribeirinho leaders got a prize in Brazil. Yes, we make an effort to establish an important cultural and friendly exchange with the ribeirinhos, that is hopefully resulting in important improvements to those communities.”
One of the things life offered to me during my stay in London was the precious experience of teaching. I still remember the first time a little girl asked me a question, calling me “Miss…”. I will never forget her voice during the class of the school we had to visit, as part of the degree lessons. That later led me start teaching more, mostly in little conservatoires in north-east and south London and it has now developed a greater wish of re-offering knowledge we are receiving through Feelings. FEELMUSIC seminars were born a couple of years ago and it is an effort of mentioning the treasures Nature offers to the Humans. Something which is also expressed through the «circe :the black cut:» project. There is no doubt that I would love to visit a rebeirinho community and meet all these people. However, Diego has agreed to visit Greece during this following autumn, when a short Athenian tour in music schools is now being scheduled. The money that will be collected from any possible donations during the concerts organised will form just a tiny humble help for the Amazonian communities. Already, educator Dr. Stratos Ladopoulos (Music School of Alimos) and professor and musician Mr. Stefanos Ganotis (various local traditional music and folk dance ensembles) have agreed in offering their knowledge and time to organise some seminars and concerts to /with their students, in the school venues or even in some parks.
At the same time, Brazilian artist Francis Etto is being in touch with Diego and they are also arranging a collaboration between the orchestra and doctor Eugênio Scannavino‘s project «Saúde e Alegria», based in the Tapajos River (Amazon Rainforest, Brazil).
What do you wish to ‘gain’ through the collaboration with the «circe :the black cut:» project, regarding the AmaZonArt?
“To expand our network, by exchanging and strengthening our artistic projects in order to contribute to our communities with a positive change.”
What is the -true- situation of education (too) in Brazil, these days, especially during the 2014 FIFA World Cup games?
“I would like to believe that during the world cup, the Brazilian government will cover the real picture about our educational system, by giving an impression that our politicians are making some progress in this matter. However, it is obvious that in terms of Brazil as a country, we have a very deficient education with schools in very bad conditions, with students selling and using, drugs, bullying, violence, etc. The real situation is that we still have a great number of analphabetism (illiteracy), teachers who are not well formed and in very bad payments. In fact, right now we have many many teaches taking to the streets and asking for a better education to our country. Besides our underprivileged schools, there is also the lack of support from the authorities. We thus, believe that art in schools could help, and that is why we insist in didactic concerts at many schools as possible.”
Diego Carneiro is one of the cases of musicians who have struggled in order to live his dream (Art), however, he could be considered a privileged person compared to many Brazilian people nowadays. However, the education he received mainly and above all from his family and his region (nature) cannot make him forget reality and life itself.
The news we all read about the situation of real life in Brazil nowadays and how poor people are treated in order to be ‘invisible’ (i.e. how Truth is forced to be hidden) should not surprise us. In other words, we were not informed only ‘today’ about the wish of Brazilian people not to host the World Cup in their country and that most important matters (like education and living conditions) should be taken care of. Many campaigns and calls for help have been going on for over a year, but how carefully did we really listen?
They say, children is our Future. That means we once used to represent Future, too. So, at least, let’s not forget Present which is the most solid bridge connecting us to each other and to a Future which is only in our hands to improve. We just need to Listen; to each other and to each Bird’s Call!
Many thanks to Diego, Francis and the professors S. Ladopoulos and S. Ganotis for accepting to offer and exchange knowledge through Art. Please, do not hesitate to contact them in case of interest in contributing to this effort. Kindly wished and siNed by Anna Stereopoulou ~
[Details about the seminars /concerts in Athens, Greece will follow, near Autumn 2014]
: contact ~ info :
AmaZonArt orchestra: http://www.amazonart.info/
Diego Carneiro: http://www.diegocarneiro.com/
: also :
Saúde e Alegria: http://www.saudeealegria.org.br/
Francis Etto: http://vimeo.com/francisetto
: about the ‘circe‘ project :
attached images [top to bottom]
~ Christmas Visit; Diego Carneiro and the orchestra’s caravan with actors and musicians performing to the ribeirinho communities. [Combu Islands, Belem, Amazon region, 2008]
~ Ari Monteiro de Araujo teaching how to build a rabeca instrument. [Bragança, March 2007]
~ Art Therapist Tassila Albuquerque and Singer Renata Kameckran at the inauguration of the “Canto das Artes” (The Art Corner), room created by AmaZonArt, in order to provide school lessons for the community. [Ribeirnho Community, Combu Islands, April 2010.]