By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – More than simply a dance or genre of music, tango represents a way of life in its birthplace of Argentina. Its rhythms and culture have spread throughout the world and, from November 8th, the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (CCBB) will celebrate that culture with the first International Tango Festival Brasil.
Taking place on Fridays through Sundays until December 15th at CCBB’s tent in Centro’s Praça dos Correios, the celebration will feature Argentines Soledad Villamil, Cecilia Stanzione, Diego Schissi and Victor Biglione, along with the Brazilian trio of Soraya Ravenle, Grazie Wirtti and Nina Wirtti.
“That choice [of the performers] was made to show our people what is being done with the tango in the 21st Century, a contemporary reading,” curator of the project and member of the LiberTango group Marcelo Caldi told The Rio Times. “They are singers, songwriters and instrumentalists who keep alive this important genre of our Latin American culture.”
Brazilian sisters Grazie and Nina Wirtti will open the festival with their inimitable style that weaves the works of traditional Brazilian composers together with tango rhythms. The Brazilian musicians Ronaldo and Bebê Kramer, playing the mandolin and accordion respectively, will accompany the sisters as special guests.
November 9th and 10th will see Argentine singer and actress Soledad Villamil perform in what should be one of the highlights of the festival. Considered by many to be one of the greatest contemporary exponents of the tango and Latin folklore, Villamil is also an accomplished actress, starring in 2009’s “El Secreto de Sus Ojos”, the year’s Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.
“Tango is admired around the world, and has a legion of fans in Brazil,” continues Caldi. “Gardel had a Brazilian partner, Alfredo le Pera, and [Ástor] Piazzolla become more popular in Brazil than in Argentina itself.”
The composer Piazzolla is credited with re-inventing the genre by including elements of jazz and classical music to develop ‘nuevo tango’. His work will also be honored during the festival by the Brazilian group Harmonitango on November 30th and December 1st.
Also among the performers will be internationally renowned guitarist Victor Biglione. The perfect embodiment of the festival’s spirit, Biglione was born in Argentina but has lived in Brazil for the last thirty years. Combining an inborn Argentinean music style and a soul deeply connected to the rhythms of Brazil, Biglione plays on November 16th and 17th (9PM).
No such festival is complete without dancing, though, and four nights (November 15th, 22nd and 29th and December 6th) will be dedicated to celebrating the movement of tango. “The popularity of tango only increases, because, I think, the identification and natural approach of Argentine culture with Brazilian culture,” said Caldi.
“Both Argentina and Brazil have developed musically at the same time, and have common ancestral roots. We are in a time of excesses of information and the Brazilians now have the opportunity to learn about their culture’s “sisters” in the Americas.”
What: International Tango Festival Brasil
Where: The CCBB tent in Praça dos Correios, Rua Visconde de Itaboraí 20, Centro
When: Fridays through Sundays, November 8th to December 15th
Entrance: R$ 10, R$5 half entrance
Tickets available at the CCBB box office and at Ingresso Rápido.
For the festival’s complete program see here.