It’s already two weeks ago that I came back from my trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Rehearsals with my trio42 for our debut CD recording end of june have kept me away from writing a proper travelogue. But now I am happy to find myself behind the computer writing about it, because this experience certainly deserves to be shared.
I went to Rio on the 16th of May, after I was invited to perform at the 6th Rio Harp Festival. This international harp festival is an incomparable event. One month, 86 concerts, harpists from all over the world, with an audience of over 20.000 people. An entire month of harp, can you believe it?
It was my first time in Brazil and actually my first time in South-America. Coincidence doesn’t exist. On the plane to São Paolo I sat next to composer/musician Martin Fondse. And it got even more bizarre, because he told me that he had intended to use the flight to write the piece I commissioned…! No surprise he didn’t get to finish it, although he assured me afterwards on facebook that the 16 bars he wrote are in fact more than enough for an entire CD in jazz music: “A little more sanding and scraping, bringing it back to normal proportions and you got yourself a brand new piece Remy!”
In Rio I immediately felt very welcome by the team of the Rio Harp Festival, led by the director Sergio da Costa e Silva. In general, I have never met more friendly people than in this country. All of them were incredibly kind and helpful, always offering their support and assistance. The first couple of days were characterized by the two upcoming performances I was going to give. It was clouded, which allowed me to focus on the concerts and prepare myself to the fullest on what was to come.
I can not compare the concerts I gave in Rio with any other perfomance. There was an incredible vibe among the public, who came in large numbers. In fact there were so many people that we had to schedule in an extra concert to fit everyone. The next day the organization arranged a hall twice as big for the third concert, but then the audience had doubled too and we had to reprise the program again…! The Brazilian people genuinely love music. I believe they don’t care what it is: samba, rock, pop, jazz, harp, as long as it is convincing, right from the heart and with passion. And when these criteria are met, they are open to appreciate all that is given to them. Some people came to all four of my concerts; what a hunger for and devotion to music! The crowd was one of the warmest and most enthusiastic audiences I have ever seen and the concerts were among my best experiences on stage.
After the concerts I had scheduled in some extra days to be able to fully appreciate Rio and spend time with my new Brazilian friends. The sun came and temperatures rose. Naturally, I went to all the sights: from Cristo Redento, to the beautiful beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, to a soccer match of Fluminensce. I went through the favelas and experienced great nights at the famous Lapa-area.
All in all it was a wonderful trip. Certainly the best country I have visited in my life and I sincerely hope to return to Rio and the festival next year!