The very circumspect title is a reflection of the tremendous variety of music available in Rio, and the diversity of places to hear it. Some is well-publicised, some you can unearth from the Internet in sites and in facebook, and some “festas” you hear about just from friends. So here is a selection – by no means trying to be comprehensive!
Rio de Janeiro has four symphony orchestras in activity – the traditional Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira (OSB), the Orquestra Petrobras Sinfônica (OPES), the Orquestra do Theatro Municipal (OSTM), and the Orquestra Filarmônica.
The OSB has a big series of concerts throughout the year – at the Theatro Municipal, the Cidade das Artes in the Barra, and at the Sala Cecília Meirells in Lapa, which re-opened last December (hurrah!). Conductor Roberto Minczuk caused a schism in the OSB some years ago, by wanting to test long-standing musicians, and the orchestra split into two – the OSB of musicians who would play with him, and OSB Opera and Repertory, who play less familiar music in less well-known places. However, there is no sign of this rift on the site, and there you can find a very extensive series of concerts throughout the year.
OPES was founded by Armando Prazeres, and is still lead by his sons, under the Musical Direction of Isaac Karabtchevsky. This orchestra, apart from playing big works in the traditional concert halls, also encourages fusion with other musical styles and playing in unusual places – making a valuable contribution the musical life of the city.
The Theatro Municipal orchestra is mainly devoted to accompanying presentations of Opera and Ballet, but I couldn’t find a programme of these for this year yet. The OSB is sustained by Vale, OPES by Petrobras, and the OSTM by the Municipality – and so one hopes these will all continue in the presently difficult economic climate.
The Série O Globo Dell’Arte de Concertos Internacionais has done a fine job for years bringing international attractions to Rio. The concerts are by no means cheap – but often are well worthwhile.
Viva Musica! directed by Heloisa Fischer for years did a great job of bringing together big and small events of classical music into a monthly guide. Unfortunately this heroic endeavour came to an end in December 2014 – apparently because of the constant changes in events and timing – and Rio has lost the best guide to the many classical concerts which are out there. So now the alternative is to trawl the sites of the orchestras, the concert halls, SESC and Música no Museu (who have lots of free concerts).
This category in Rio is vast – – bossa nova, samba, choro, hip-hop, funk… The scene is always changing, and you probably need to dive in to find out what is going on. A good starting point is the site http://rioshow.oglobo.globo.com/musica/home.aspx. Here you can find a selection of artists playing in different styles, with descriptions of their music, and time and place to hear them.
Talking of places – you can hear Bossa Nova in the Vinicius Bar in Ipanema (and maybe in the Beco de Garrafas in Copa), while leading bars in Lapa for choro and samba are the Bar Semente and Carioca de Gema. Rio Scenarium – very touristy – is worth a visit because of the decoration, and the musical standard is usually good.
Some recommendations from son William Hester – the Baile de Almeidinha is an event at the Circo Voador about every 40 days, which presents best-quality Brazilian music, with a touch of jazz. The leader is bandolin-player Hamilton de Holanda who invites different guest artists each time – check out the site. The Forró de Estudantina: at the Centro Cultural Estudantina Musical – a traditional dance hall in the Praça Tiradentes – has live music and lots of dancing, and “gente bonita e simpatica”. Forró and gringo probably don’t mix, but still…. For something very Carioca try out the Roda de Samba da Pedra do Sal, which is an open-air venue in the area of Morro de Conceição between Praça Mauá and the Cidade Nova. More details in http://mapadecultura.rj.gov.br/manchete/roda-de-samba-da-pedra-do-sal.
To watch out for
Here are some personal recommendations: José Paulo Becker is a wonderful guitarist, playing both melody and accompaniment with great virtuosity, always surrounded by first-class musicians in small groups. He is a member of the Trio Madeira Brasil, which is a must-hear group – if they are playing in Brazil! Zé Paulo is also a prolific composer, and is usually to be found in the Bar Semente on Mondays.
Julia Vargas is an up-and-coming singer of MPB. She sings with freedom of expression in a lovely melodious voice in a wide variety of musical styles, and is a percussionist and dancer as well. If she isn’t well-known yet, she soon will be! You can catch up with her through her site and Facebook.
Not an artist, but a place, the Bar Italia in Charitas has good food, good atmosphere, and music on Sunday afternoons – choro or samba. You can get there by car across the bridge, or by ferry or bus to Charitas. Much easier than you think, and a good outing!
But in Rio de Janeiro, if you go out at night and are not worried about going to some of the more obscure parts of the city, there are lots of parties and open-air shows available. Sometimes these are just known to a set of fans, or people living round there.
So have an adventure or two – and Good Listening!……