The New School Brazilian Choro Ensemble is an acclaimed ensemble of eight musicians, comprised of accomplished New School Jazz students and Richard Boukas. They will perform in a chamber music setting showcasing a a century-long panorama of legendary Brazilian composers, including the seminal Ernesto Nazareth, and his musical offspring: Anacleto de Medeiros, Pixinguinha, Jacob do Bandolim, Hermeto Pascoal and Guinga.
Choro is customarily an aural tradition of repertoire passed from one generation to the next. The genre’s origins trace back one and a half centuries to the fertile environs of Rio de Janeiro, where Brazil’s aristocratic salons featured the popular European dance forms,such as polka, minuet, valsa, quadrille and schottische. Most of these pieces are set in a traditional AABBACCA modified rondo form that incorporate Classical and Romantic melodic and harmonic influences. When these European pieces blended with the socially provocative Afro-Brazilian dances lundu, batuque, maxixe and corta jaca, their syncopated melodies and accompaniments were often being compared to early Ragtime, as well as that genre’s own Creole roots.
Early choro musicians were usually amateur hobbyists and interpreters of existing popular repertoire. They played flute, mandolin, various guitars and small hand percussion instruments. However, with the emergence of conservatory-trained Afro-Brazilians, a distinctive body of original repertoire began developing by the 1860’s. Choro’s vanguard composers were flautist Joaquim Callado, pianists Ernesto Nazareth and Chiquinha Gonzaga, and Anacleto de Medeiros, famous for his bombeiro (firehouse) symphonic band repertoire. During the twentieth century, championed by the great Pixinguinha, early jazz and impressionist influenced Choro’s style. Choros were also routinely written by Brazilian classical composers including Villa-Lobos, Radamés Gnattali and Francisco Mignone. Jazz influences again found ample opportunities in the choros of Jacob do Bandolim, Hermeto Pascoal and Guinga. Choro has enjoyed a keen resurgence in the last twenty years, adopting evermore sophisticated melodic and harmonic vocabularies without ever losing its essential traits.
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