The soil, terra [‘te xa] in Portuguese, is red like chili powder. The juxtaposition of terra and the green of the sugar cane were a breathtaking sight and a memory I will always have of my time in Brazil!
A Music Professor and Her Former Student Reunite
This summer, associate professor of music Jenni Cook traveled to Ribeirão-Preto, Brazil, for a site visit to complete details for a student exchange between the University of São-Paolo in Ribeirão-Preto and UNH. While there, she gave two lectures on body mapping, a lecture on diction for singers, a master class for singers and instrumentalists, and a recital of Brazilian Art Song and songs by women composers. Professor Cook also spent time with her former student Melody Chapin ’10, currently in Brazil on a Fulbright Scholarship to develop an anthology of Brazilian Art Song.
How does one compress nearly two weeks of once-in-a-lifetime adventure into a short “travel report?” This is a challenge. My journey began in 2008, when my student Melody Chapin applied and an International Research Opportunity grant to study Brazilian Art Song in Brazil. As Melody’s UNH mentor, I worked closely with Melody’s Brazilian mentor at the University of Sao Paolo in Ribeirao-Preto (USP-RP), Dr. Maria Yuka de Almeida-Prado (Yuka). Together we sought to develop a student exchange between our two institutions. Melody applied for a Fulbright in Brazil to further explore Brazilian Art Song.
Beth Kilinc, Yuka de Almeida-Prado, Jenni Cook, and Catherine D'Auteuil
I still remember screaming in delight with Melody on the phone when she found out that she was going back to Brazil on a Fulbright scholarship. I think it will remain one of my most cherished memories as a teacher.
The story gets better. In February of 2012, De Almeida-Prado came to UNH to give a master class and recital on Brazilian Art Song. While here, we met with Catherine D’Auteuil and Beth Kilinc in the Center for International Education to begin in-depth conversations and planning for our student exchange. We had a similar meeting with the International Education office at USP-RP during my stay in June.
Body Mapping work to improve facility and ease of performing
I wanted to make the most of my time at USP-RP and delighted in being invited to give two presentations on body mapping, a discipline based on the Alexander Technique that promotes musician health and prevents injury. I was recently licensed as a teacher of body mapping, and I was proud to introduce it to the Brazilians I met. I’ve been invited back to Brazil in 2014 to give more in-depth lectures, presentations, and lessons in the discipline. The timing of that will work well because our goal for the student exchange is to send our first UNH student to Brazil in January of 2014. I will be able to be there to work with the staff at USP-RP in orienting our student as they begin their semester abroad!
I also gave a lecture entitled “Choreography of Diction” to De Almeida Prado’s voice studio as she would like to develop a diction course at USP-RP. After three, intense days of lectures and instruction, I applied that content to a two-hour master class where I worked with singers and instrumentalists. My short residency there ended with a recital of Brazilian Art Song and songs by women composers, which was the fruit of a Liberal Arts Faculty Summer Research Stipend I received last summer to study Brazilian Portuguese diction for performance of Brazilian Art Song. It was exciting to try out what I’ve been practicing and preparing for over the past year in my recital for native Portuguese speakers. Another first for me on this trip was the entrance of a dog during the recital. The darling pup headed straight for me on the stage. We had to make a brief pause to lead the animal back outside…unforgettable!
Yuka, Melody, and Jenni discuss the merits of one IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) symbol over another to better define Portuguese diction for singing.
After the recital was over, Yuka and her husband Neto whisked us away to their Rancho, located a couple of hours North of Ribeirao-Preto for a few days of rest and relaxation before we flew back to the United States. Melody joined us for the weekend and we held an impromptu meeting to view and to discuss Melody’s progress on developing an anthology of Brazilian Art Song.
I read several of the travel reports on the center website prior to preparing my own and noticed another UNH colleague recently traveled to Brazil. I chuckled out loud at many of his experiences and observations because they were similar to my own. I agree with Professor Dain LaRoche that the Brazilians are a warm and inviting people with unparalleled generosity and kindness. The food is fresh, colorful, and delicious. The countryside is incredibly beautiful and lush. The students and faculty with whom I worked were enthusiastic, curious, and so open to learning something new. I can’t wait to go back and I can’t wait for the UNH/USP-RP exchange to begin.
Thank you to my students, colleagues, and administrators at UNH for all of the support and guidance you have given to me. I am so grateful for the opportunity to foster this exchange between our institutions and I’m eager to share the beautiful and exotic culture of Brazil and its music with our UNH students.