By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – This Sunday, June 2nd, the “Escola de Música da Rocinha” (Rocinha Music School or EMR) is throwing a huge party to celebrate its 25th year of existence. This promises to be a fun day out for all the family, with performances from many of the school’s groups, a R$5 feijoada, and much more, all in support of a fantastic cause.
Gilberto Figueiredo, director of the school, comments on the remarkable journey they have made: “In 1994 a person who was collaborating on the start of this project said to Hans Ulrich Koch, the German founder of the school, that this school wouldn’t last for even a year.”
He continues: “And here we are living in one of the most important moments in our school’s history, also, without a doubt, with the best structure we’ve ever had.”
Asked about the origins of the celebration, Canadian musician and teacher at the school Vanessa Rodrigues comments: “I think it was obvious to everyone who works there that it was important to celebrate 25 years.”
“It is very rare for an NGO/social music project to survive nearly this long, so it is important to celebrate the project’s perseverance and give visibility to this fact, especially given the current political situation,” she adds.
Rocinha Music School is a non-profit project created in 1994 on the initiative of Hans Ulrich Koch, a German music teacher, who, while living in Brazil, was troubled by the conditions of the children living in Rio’s favelas. He then decided to devote himself to the work of social development through music.
Since then the school has expanded its activities and the number of students attending – today it boasts a total of 300 students.
“The event will be very family-friendly, with all the groups either made up of current or former students,” says Rodrigues.
Among those groups performing will be Sopros do Morro, a group of brass students from the school who play upbeat pop and street band music; and Orquestra de Câmara da Rocinha (Rocinha Chamber Orchestra), the school’s flagship instrumental group who last year performed in the Londrina Music Festival.
“Aside from the great music, I’m looking forward to seeing everybody happy celebrating our school going strong,” Rodrigues adds.
“Being a part of this certainly makes life a lot better for a huge number of these kids. Many of them express how they feel a sense of pride in their musical accomplishments, that they can really be themselves here, and that their best friends are the ones they met at the school. This is all very important,” she concludes.
What: ‘Aniversário da EMR 25 anos’
When: Sunday, June 2nd, 1 PM – 8 PM
Where: Acadêmicos da Rocinha, Rua Bertha Lutz, São Conrado
Entrance: R$5 plus 1kg of non-perishable food.