Sunday, July 24, 2016

The World's Pilgrimage

Seemingly to bless our feet in the pilgrimage, shimmering clouds of silvery granite dust swirl around the many feet and pathways, guiding our way toward the top of the mountain.  Strange fruits grow on the trees within a truly urban jungle where monkeys scatter from curious children wanting to play.  The faithful and the tourists trek up to this point for one reason - Christ the Redeemer.

But once again, let's get some background music to this post - you know what to do.  Press play and have fun reading.

The ceremony will be offering several styles of truly Brazilian music.  I've written about samba and bossa nova in the previous two posts.  You're listening to a type of music invented in Rio in the 1800s.  If Brazil is now best known for samba and bossa nova, choro was the defacto "Brazilian" popular music before WWII.

It is based in classical music tradition - an amalgamation of the German waltz, Spanish habanera, and other European dance/music forms then combined with West African dance rhythm.  It is very similar to the relationship between ragtime and jazz in the US.  Both born of African rhythm and the classical music tradition, but once jazz matured, it would reign as THE American music.  Similarly, bossa nova and samba evolved out of choro to take the world by storm.

Early on, when I was learning about the music culture of Brazil, I expected this to be vocal music since it was called "choro" - it looks very similar to the word for "choir" in most every Western Language, but it actually means to "cry" in Portuguese, and choro is predominantly instrumental.  I've sort have fallen in love with this music since learning about it.  The most famous composer of choro was Ernesto Nazareth, and I've purchased the critical edition of Nazareth's music for my library among other things.  The ceremony will beautifully feature a choro performer, Paulinho da Viola, in one of the most prominent segments (of which I have a hand in).

Preparations are moving toward evening rehearsals which has freed up the time I should be sleeping - the morning!  But today, a few of us (and some members of Ireland's Olympic team) were able to go up to see the world's largest art deco statue in the world - Christ the Redeemer.  I turned around from the same location in the second panorama.  (click photos to see a larger view)

Christ the Redeemer (left - as if I had to say), Maracana Stadium (Opening Ceremony - middle white thing by the edge of the hill), Downtown Rio (Right)
Sugar Loaf Mountain (far left), Copacabana Beach (middle left - behind the range), Ipanema Beach (middle right)
Crown in front of the statue looking at Sugar Loaf Mountain.  At the middle bottom part of this photo you can barely see a green roof behind the tree branch.  The nuns who maintain the chapel and monument live there.  You can pull up a rope and container at the cement outcropping to drop in a donation.

Underneath the statue there is a small chapel.  A family was having a baptism there when we arrived.
By population, Brazil is the largest Catholic country in the world.  Obviously, we cannot tell the story of Brazil without talking about Catholicism, and we can't tell the story of Rio without Christ the Redeemer.  These turn out to be major artistic points in the ceremony - and in a very exciting and beautiful way.   Tomorrow, we are making a stop at the nearby downtown Cathedral, one of the World's largest, for some final planning before a week of practice runs leading up to the first dress rehearsals.

Teaser photo, oops!  Taking photos of the sign asking us not to take photos during rehearsals.

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