Conexões Brazil

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 23, 2021 at 7pm
Virtual Livestreamed Event from Teatro Esperanza; recorded at World Cafe Live
Tickets $5 / FREE for Students & Seniors
Orchestra 2001 SOUNDING BOARD members can select a free ticket.

Ticketing and Livestream are managed by Teatro Esperanza. If you have questions and can't find your answer on their FAQ page, please reach out to Esperanza's box office. (215) 324-0746 /

20th- and 21st-Century Music by Brazilian composers

Orchestra 2001 – Mark Loria, conducting

Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) – Sexteto místico

Clarice Vasconcelos Assad (b. 1978) – The Book of Spells

Orlando Haddad (b. 1953) – Lendas Amazônicas (Amazon Legends) world premiere

Orlando Haddad's commission generously funded by the Steven R. Gerber Trust.

Orchestra 2001 returns to Teatro Esperanza as part of Esperanza Arts Center’s VOCES series, featuring live-streamed performances that spotlight the arts and traditions of Brazil. Enjoy authentic Brazilian food while watching VOCES at home and support our local Latino-owned restaurants.

Composer Heitor Villa-LobosHeitor Villa-Lobos, composer

Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) [Pronounced: AY-tor VEE-la-LOW-bosh]

Undoubtedly one of the most prolific and internationally in-demand South American composers in his time, Villa-Lobos wrote over 2,000 pieces for orchestra, chamber ensemble, and solo instrument with voice. These works were inspired by traditional Brazilian folk music and by the European classical tradition in which he was trained. His Bachianas Brasilieras, a set of nine Bach-inspired suites, is a popular example of this balance between musical worlds.

"I learned music from a bird in the jungles of Brazil, not from academies." Assad, composer

A powerful communicator renowned for her musical scope and versatility, Brazilian-American Clarice Assad (b. 1978) is a significant artistic voice in the classical, world music, pop and jazz genres, renowned for her evocative colors, rich textures, and diverse stylistic range. A prolific Grammy nominated composer, with over 70 works to her credit, her work has been commissioned by internationally renowned organizations, festivals and artists. A sought-after performer, she is a celebrated pianist and inventive vocalist. Ms. Assad has released seven solo albums and appeared on or had her works performed on another 30. As an innovator, her award-winning Voxploration Series on music education, creation, songwriting and improvisation has been presented throughout the United States, Brazil, Europe and the Middle East. With her talents sought-after by artists and organizations worldwide, the multi-talented musician continues to attract new audiences both onstage and off.

Orlando Haddad, composer commission for Orchestra 2001Orlando Haddad, composer

Orlando Haddad (b. 1953) has been composing since the age of 12. He came to the United States from his country of Brazil in 1974 to attend the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where he studied composition under Pulitzer Prize recipient Robert Ward (The Crucible). Along with classmate Patricia King, Orlando founded the Brazilian Music group Minas in 1978. Although Minas and Brazilian Jazz has been the majority of his musical concentration, he's also written contemporary pieces in classical, 20th Century styles. Transparencies (2003) for mixed ensemble was played by Relâche. Für Elaine (2010) is a cycle of songs for soprano and piano. Live Connections commissioned Baroque Meets Bossa, performed in 2014 by Minas and the ensemble Melomanie.

Orlando is currently writing Lendas Amazônicas, commissioned by Orchestra 2001, for a 7-piece ensemble: flute, oboe, alto sax, tenor sax, upright bass and piano, with the composer joining on guitar and percussion. The pieces, which encompass jazz, Brazilian folk as well as classical styles, describe and illustrate legends by the indigenous people of the Amazon jungle, in Brazil. Besides the degree in Composition from UNCSA, Orlando has a masters in Composition from Temple University and a masters in Arts Administration from Drexel.
For more information about Orlando Haddad, please visit

Preliminary notes from Orlando Haddad about his new work, Lendas Amazônicas (Amazon Legends):

I. Lamento de Jaci (Jaci’s Lament) - In Brazilian mythology and in Tupi-Guarani, the main language of the Brazilian indigenous people, Jaci is the God of the Moon. Depicted here, Jaci is lamenting the fact that the union with Guaraci, the Sun God, is not possible. In the legend, Jaci and Guaraci were in love, but their union was impossible because the heat of the sun would be too intense, melting the world, whereas the cries of the moon would flood the earth. Therefore the two lovers had to accept they could not be together. But Jaci, inconsolable, cried an entire day and night, partially inundating the land and the forming the Amazon River.

II. O Rio (The River) - The waters are the main channels of transportation in the forrest. Presented here in Rondo form, the river leads us into an adventure discovering 3 legends, The Boto (Pink Dolphin), Iara (the Mother of the Waters), and Muriaquitã (a good luck charm).

1. Boto Cor de Rosa - The Pink Dolphin is typical of the Amazon region. In the legend, the Boto transforms into a very handsome young man. He leaves the water and charms the young female indians, spending romantic time with them. Before morning he returns to the water and 9 months later the females give birth to fatherless children.

2. Iara - Iara is the "Mother of the Rivers" in the Tupi Indian tribe mythology. She is a very beautiful young woman with long dark hair, (many times depicted as a mermaid). She lives close to water sources in the forest. Her beauty is so great and her voice so melodious that it is said that any man who sees her and hears her singing, falls madly in love with her. Men become so infatuated with her that they end up jumping into the waters in pursuit of her, disappearing forever. (From the OAS Organization of American States)

3. Muriaquitã - The legend tells the story of a tribe of women warriors who lived in the Amazon region. Known as the Icamiabas, they mated once a year by the Lake Iaci-Uaruá, known as the “mirror of the moon”, where the partners shared a nuptial bath. After the ritual, which involved dancing and singing, the females plunged into the depths of the lake fetching a green clay which they used to make a charm, usually in the form of a frog, that was gifted to their male lovers and believed to protect and bring good luck.


brazil-plant-flower-vitoria-regiaIII. Vitória Regia (Giant Water Lilly) - This piece has been written as a Bachiana, which emulates the music of Bach. Villa-Lobos was the first Brazilian composer to do so. The legend tells the story of Naiá, a young indian girl who was in love with Jaci, the god of the Moon. According to the story, Jaci would enchant young female indians who would mysteriously disappear, while a new star would appear in the heavens. Naiá desired to become a star and be close to Jaci. Her obsession led her to exhaustion pursuing the Moon. She ran in the forrest and eventually fell asleep by a lagoon. When she awoke, seeing the image of the moon so close, she jumped in the water and sadly downed. Jaci felt pity and transformed Naiá into a beautiful fragrant flower which blooms at night, on the lily pads.

IV. Curupira (The Forrest Guardian) - Another very popular character in Brazilian mythology is the Curupira. He is a dwarf with red hair and green teeth. Some say his skin is also green. His feet are turned backwards. Due to this particularity, he manages to confuse his pursuers. One of his favorite pranks is to make people follow his footprints to nowhere. It looks like he is walking in one direction, when in reality, he is walking in the opposite direction. Quite clever! Curupira is the protector of animals and plants and will punish any hunter who hunts for fun as well as any logger who cuts a tree without a good reason for doing so. He is strong and powerful and likes to mislead hunters or loggers by whistling into their ears and giving them false directional signals.

Brazil tucuma fruit.jpgV. Dia e Noite (Day and Night) - In the beginning there was only day. Night existed only at the bottom of the lakes and rivers. The daughter of an indian chief, having been just married, longed to see the night. She expressed her wish to her husband who sent a young indian warrior back to the chief’s tribe. The father, deciding to grant her daughter’s wish, gave the warrior a tucumã fruit, a type of coconut, and instructed him not to open it. On the way back home, intrigued by the noises coming out of the coconut, the warrior could not contain his curiosity and decided to crack open the tucumã. Darkness and many creatures of the night were released. The indian bride, not content with all that darkness, pulled a strand of her own hair and passed it in the middle of it, dividing it in half. From that moment on, half the time would be day, and the other half, night.

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