By Fiona Hurrell, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Boasting some of the biggest names and talents in classical and instrumental music, the 18th edition of one of the world’s largest free music festivals, “The Rio International Cello Encounter”, is due to take place on August 8th-19th.

A 2008 performance at the Rio International Cello Encounter, photo by
A 2008 performance at the Rio International Cello Encounter, photo by

The man behind the event is David Chew, a British expatriate, internationally acclaimed cellist and OBE holder who’s love of music encouraged him to introduce the Rio International Cello Encounter as a venture which enables the citizens of Rio to enjoy, and learn how to play great music.

Speaking of what drives him to continue to produce these events, Chew reveals “I want to give music to the people. I just feel that everyone has the right to hear good quality music.”

Over the years the content and size of the festival has evolved and grown, incorporating modern instruments such as electric cellos while hosting some big names and tackling music by some of the worlds most highly acclaimed composers. Chew reveals, “There is something for everyone at the concerts. We include not just classical music but jazz, tango and, of course, Brazilian music.”

It was in fact the music of Brazil (Bachianas Villa Lobos to be precise) that brought Chew to the country 31 years ago. He explains, “When I was fifteen and playing in the National Youth Orchestra in Britain we played the Villa Lobos and it was this big group of Cellos altogether that was so fantastic that I knew this was the type of music I wanted to be playing and so here I am.”

David Chew conducting the Orquestra da Grota de Surucucu in Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
David Chew conducting the Orquestra da Grota de Surucucu in Niteroi, photo provided by David Chew.

With so much organization going in to the festival, Chew is proud to have the support of his family, in particular, his daughter Mariana who has not only produced the event but has designed a new and innovative concert combining ballet and cello at the Caixa Cultural from August 8th-12th .

Elsewhere, Charles Dickens fans will be in for a treat on August 9th as Chew and guest singer Martha Herr from the U.S., perform a selection of tunes penned by the infamous writer himself at the Eva Klabin foundation on the Lagoa.

One performance Chew is especially looking forward to, both as a musician and as a fan, is artist Tito Cartechini’s rendition of Libertango by Piazzolla scheduled for August 12th at the Igreja Candelária. “I love Piazzolla” he explains excitedly, “he was such a fantastic composer and it will be a wonderful performance.”

When not performing music, Chew can be found volunteer teaching underprivileged children how to play and appreciate music. He reveals, “I get an enormous return from the kids I teach and that’s why I continue to do it.”

Speaking on behalf of the international artists preparing to travel to Rio to perform at the festival, Chew says, “I think the main reason why they come back each year is that when they leave, they go away feeling rewarded. To see the smiles on people’s faces when they hear them perform makes it all worthwhile.”

With so many exciting and high quality performances due to take place in various impressive locations across the city, audience turnout is expected to be high. To learn more about the program of concerts and performers, visit the website


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