Syracuse University’s Brazilian Ensemble brings a Latin American beat to the Setnor School of Music
Syracuse University’s Brazilian Ensemble brings a Latin American beat to the Setnor School of MusicOctober 26, 2001Judy Holmesjlholmes@syr.edu
Syracuse University’s new Brazilian Ensemble will present its premiere concert at 8 p.m. Nov. 8 in the Rose and Jules R. Setnor Auditorium in SU’s Crouse College. The concert is free and open to the public.
The group will perform a mixture of percussion pieces and vocal pieces, including “Balanca Pema,” “Aguas de Marco,” “Magalenha,” and Escola de Samba drumming.
The ensemble’s unique and lively sounds are drawn from the Brazilian Escola de Sama (samba school) tradition, which originated during the 1920s, according to ensemble founders Elisa Macedo Dekaney, assistant professor music education; and Joshua Dekaney, adjunct instructor.
Samba schools are large groups of musicians, dancers, singers and other performers drawn from communities all across Brazil that perform in the annual Carnival celebrations that are held throughout the country before Lent. “It’s the Brazilian form of Mardi Gras,” Elisa Dekaney says. “The Samba schools include the entire community. People from every neighborhood spend a year preparing for their 90-minute performance in Carnival parades. Each Samba school group includes anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 people.”
The sounds and instruments used by Samba school percussionists draw heavily from African and Western European traditions, Joshua Dekaney says. Dekaney is the lead drum in the SU ensemble. In Brazil, from 300 to 500 percussionists are included in a Samba school group. The SU ensemble includes six students and the two founding faculty members.
“Our goal is to expose students to non-traditional forms of music,” Elisa Dekaney says. “This is the type of music that is fun to play and that anyone can learn. We encourage people from the University community to join us.”
Student members of the ensemble are Andrew Berman, a senior music industry major who plays the agogo bells; Christopher Halvorsen, a freshman performance major who plays the tamborin; Joanna Rocha, a freshman engineering major and native of Brazil who plays the surdo or “big drum”; Stephanie Shershow, a senior music industry major who also plays agogo bells; and Bartlomiei Winnowicz G’01, a research scientist at the CASE Center who plays the chocalho (a shaker instrument). Winnowicz recently earned a master’s degree in business management at the School of Management. He is a native of Poland and also has a master’s degree in engineering.
The Brazilian Ensemble is the first of several new international ensembles that are planned at the school of music says Joseph Downing, director of the Rose, Jules R. and Stanford S. Setnor School of Music in SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts. During the Spring 2002 semester, the school plans to introduce courses in the music of China and in African drumming. Both courses will have an ensemble component.
Elisa Macedo Dekaney was born in Rio de Janeiro and earned a bachelor’s degree in piano performance at the Semanario Teologico Batista do Sul do Brasil and a bachelor’s degree in communication from the Universidade Federal Fluminense. She earned a master’s degree in choral conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a Ph.D. in choral music education from Florida State University.
Josh Dekaney earned a master’s degree in music performance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Kentucky. He has taught steel drums and Brazilian music at Florida State University. He performs exclusively on Paiste cymbals, sounds and percussion.