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The newest Brazilian music

Two tax rebate mechanisms make it possible to record and divulge the sounds of our times

dissemination A Leonardo Martinelli music score – Ayahuascadissemination

The tax rebate mechanisms generally lead to the proposal of grandiose projects, in which the sponsoring enterprises are keeping their eye mainly on the media rather than on the artistic quality of whatever they are rendering feasible. And they insist on choosing their projects because, according to their pragmatic thinking, transferring their tax exemption funds to the fund of the Ministry of Culture means giving up any dividends for the organization. This is the way things work here, but also in the whole world, where the supporters of art and culture pour millions of dollars into libraries and culture centers… provided they carry their names and surnames.

Still, once in a while, the State gets things right. In at least two specific cases, the idea of opening registration for small projects, evaluated by specialized committees (meaning professionals) is generating an unimaginable fact: the newest Brazilian contemporary music has found a channel to publicize itself. Yes, that present day music that, due to its hermetic or experimental nature, or to its refusal to take market laws into account, ends up existing only within the boundaries of the academic world or the shelves of their creators.

The miracle occurred basically because of two innovative incentive mechanisms: Proac, the system of incentives provided by the government of the state via the Culture Bureau of São Paulo State, that operates along the lines of the federal Rouanet law: it reduces the ICMS value-added tax due by firms. However, as the figures are low, the number of companies is greater, making it easier to track down a sponsor, a task normally undertaken by the composer and/or the musicians themselves. On the other hand, an even better formula is found in the extremely professional system of Petrobras, where the strictness of the selection is greater and the projects become financially feasible as soon as they are approved. In both cases, the projects rarely exceed the R$200,000.00 level. Therefore, they have a sure address: the artists and producers themselves, who cut their budgets as much as possible because what they want, above all, is to make them viable.

The optimists are talking about an avalanche of CDs with the very new music of young composers from the São Paulo State or who live here, though they come from all over Brazil. The realists applaud this, because we finally have access to recordings that are worthy of the works of the young composers, in the 30 to 40 age group. There could be no better X-ray of current Brazilian experimental music.

Two outstanding examples
Two noteworthy examples of this crop of launches in the start of 2012 standout because they are recordings of interpreters and use the same tax rebate mechanism, Proac. This is a clear sign that the more open-minded musicians (unfortunately still a rare breed in the Brazilian musical milieu) embrace a vanguardist position and dedicate themselves with talent and persistence to very new music. This is the case of the excellent pianist Lidia Bazarian, who started playing contemporary music while still in the city of Belo Horizonte, in the Novo Horizonte [New Horizons] group. She now plays with the Camerata Aberta, the sole group in Brazil that is permanently dedicated to contemporary music. She has just launched the CD Imaginário, in which she plays piano solos by Silvio Ferraz, Marisa Rezende, Rogério Costa, Marcos Branda Lacerda, Gustavo Penha, Valéria Bonafé and Tatiana Catanzaro. The three last ones, aged 20 to 35, are extremely new composers, who studied under or were influenced by the first four, who are now in the 50 to 60 year old age group. And what is this music? It is certainly far removed from the American post-modern trends. It is closer to the more radical experimentation of Europe, with original research of timbres, textures, gestures and sonorities.

dissemination Booklet of the Música plural double album. Played by Percorso Ensemble, conducted by Ricardo Bolognadissemination

The same halo surrounds the marvelous CD of solo violin of the Italian musician Simona Cavuoto, who has been living here for seven years. She is a member of Osesp (the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra) and of the Camerata Aberta as well. Um violino na metrópole brings together violin solos by Willy Corrêa de Oliveira, now 73 years old, and a sort of doyen of new music, and of composers who are currently around 40 years of age, such as Marcus Siqueira, Marcus Alessi Bittencourt, Rodrigo Lima and Maurício de Bonis.

Although there is no declared esthetic affinity amongst them, at least all of them were influenced by the magnificent writing of Willy, who is certainly just as talented verbally as he is composing music. “The violin sings the most – the more it is alone” is one of Willy’s key statements, that he used to poetically open his text. And in a way, it is the motto of the disparate works in the CD, because the romantic and virtuoso aura is so impregnated in the DNA of the violin that is its virtually impossible to escape from its historical charm, when composing.

For example, Simona confesses, surprisingly, that “the Brazilians are very open to contemporary musical production. Being here, I feel more lucid and connected with the presentness of the work.” In other words, we, the Brazilians, who consider the struggle to ratify and divulge new music very hard, should take a look at other people’s back yards, complain less – and work harder.

Take a look at the ages of the composers on this CD: Marcus Siqueira and Marcus Alessi Bittencout are 37 years old; Rodrigo Lima, 35, and Mauricio de Bonis is yet to hit 40. All of them deal with expanded techniques. And they create works that Gilberto Mendes quite rightly refers to as post-neue musik (neue musik being the post-war, avant-gardist European orthodoxy, lead by Stockhausen, Pousseur, Boulez and Berio, in the course in Darmstadt, Germany).

Besides the CDs, there is also financing for projects that cover a longer time span, such as “Móbile: processos musicais interativos” [Mobile: interactive musical processes] (see Pesquisa FAPESP issue 190), a thematic project that has FAPESP support and that began in 2009 and should finish in 2013. It is the brainchild of Fernando Iazzetta, from USP and, on March 22, it held its second concert via fast internet, as part of the Sonorities Festival of Belfast, in Northern Ireland, where the concert was the opening event of an international festival of contemporary music – and also of any place on Earth, via streaming on the internet at this website.

A broader sampling
A more diverse and representative overview of the newest Brazilian contemporary music, however, can be found in the double album Música plural. This was produced in 2009 by a group of young composers, all of them aged around 30: Felipe Lara, Bruno Ruviaro, Tatiana Catanzaro, Thiago Cury, Fernando Rederer, Alexandre Schubert, José Orlando Alves, Januibe Tejera, Marcus Siqueira, Leonardo Martinelli, Arthur Rinaldi, Matheus Bitondi, Guilherme Nascimento, Sérgio Roberto de Oliveira and Neder Nassaro. They resorted to the Petrobras tax rebate mechanism. Hence the adjective “plural” in the name of the album. There we can hear Felipe Lara, for example, a composer that has been successful in both the USA and Europe, as well as Leonardo Martinelli, an activist composer who is also a journalist and university professor. Tatiana Catanzaro studied in Brazil and in France thanks to FAPESP and Capes grants and she now works in Paris with one of the most qualified European contemporary music groups, Ensemble Itinéraire. Overall, 15 works, all of them written in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Together, they form a significant kaleidoscope of the diversity of Brazilian contemporary creation.

Observation: the three aforementioned CDs can be acquired at Loja Clássicos. The double album Música plural is distributed by the store free of charge, though the cost of freight must be paid.