iBOC - International Brazilian Opera Company – Debut Concerts

iBOC - International Brazilian Opera Company – Debut Concerts

Chamber Member News Post Date: 12/19/13 Source: iBOC By: Mariana Costa Pinto
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In New York anything can go unnoticed, no matter how big. However, an eclectic group of composers, singers and artists are working together to make sure that their work does not go unnoticed in the Big Apple. Their goal: Producing Brazilian Opera. But what is Brazilian Opera? While the name may indicate a relationship with the country of origin and the nationality of two of the founding composers, iBoc defines itself by its open approach to the genre, an approach that embraces all influences and aims to reach as wide an audience as possible.

“The Brazilian experience is about acceptance, it’s about embracing the difference, mixing distant cultures to produce something new. In music this translates into a sophisticated style that speaks to the heart through rhythms that can engage both the mind and the body,” says co-founding composer João MacDowell.

At the center of this movement for a new style of opera is the friendship of three composers: João MacDowell, Luigi Porto and Thiago Tiberio. Albeit their differences, they share an approach to classical music with a strong background in popular and jazz music. Half-jokingly they claim to be saving opera from boredom.

Luigi Porto came to New York City from Rome. Born in Calabria, a region in southern Italy, he was working both as a composer and a film sound designer, while playing in a alternative pop band called Maisie. Porto’s compositions already reflected the influence of Brazilian harmonies, along with avant-garde music and electronic atmospheres, when he happened to meet Brasilia native João MacDowell.

João MacDowell was an established musician in Brazil before he moved to New York City in 2002. In his hometown of Brasilia he had been the leader of the band Tonton Macoute, pioneering the fusion of Brazilian rhythms and electronica. In Rio he worked with some of the city’s most influential artists, such as Hermeto Pascoal, Paulinho da Viola and Tim Maia. A Latin Grammy nominee in 2000, for his album Parece Que Existo that fused bossa nova and funk, he found himself working as a soundtrack composer in New York, from his Harlem studio Come Together Music. After a series of encounters with opera singers who were all looking for meaningful and emotional new music, MacDowell gravitated back to the classical music of his musical formation.

MacDowell’s first opera Tamanduá had been the first opera in Portuguese produced in the United States. Infused with Brazilian traditional music and full of haunting melodies, the show sold out all performances in 2008 and garnered an emotional reaction from an audience that, like New York itself, represented all ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. According to a Dominican TV commentator: “Tamanduá transcends languages to communicate universal emotions.” (CRTV) The opera went on to be produced at Montclair State University in 2009.

The friendship between Porto and MacDowell proved to be fruitful. It was 2012 and MacDowell was working at his second opera Plastic Flowers, a byzantine psychodrama for one singer, one pianist and one sound designer. In this work he partnered with Luigi Porto who performed the live electronics and provided sound design, bringing in a film atmosphere to the opera.

Thiago Tiberio moved from Brazil to New York to study composition. Currently, he scores documentaries and commercials in addition to maintaining a career as a conductor for major orchestras across the world. He met MacDowell through a common friend in the film industry. MacDowell later introduced Porto to Tibeiro at an orchestral recording session at the Juilliard School. Their friendship deepened through many late night jam sessions and philosophical conversations about the future of art. A whole crowd of singers and instrumentalists gravitated around these “Three Musketeers of ‘New Opera.’ ” Their minds were steaming with new ideas for the genre.

A community that was to become iBoc began to orbit MacDowell’s studio. Abby Powel, a Texas-born mezzo-soprano of Cherokee descent, had already starred in Tamanduá and Plastic Flowers. A truly humble diva, if there ever was one, insisted that they needed to create their own company and have the artistic integrity that only comes with independent and diligent labor.

The flute player and visual artist Junia d’Affonseca was also a constant presence, always trying to introduce the composers to other people who could further their ideals. One night she brought Alexandra Filipe to one of the jam sessions. A soprano born in Brazil and raised in Portugal, Filipe became the iBoc Vocal Director. Uka Gameiro, Brazilian percussionist, had shared the stage with João MacDowell many times with the Malagueta Trio. Christina Morgan also joined the group, a book editor who had been MacDowell’s Portuguese student; she became a fundamental person in formatting a business structure for iBoc. Other collaborators of varied backgrounds started joining, helping to give shape to the idea. Some of these are Athena Azevedo, a visual artist of Portuguese descent; Yulia Potulova, pianist and Choral Director, from Kazakhstan; Simona De Feo concert producer and finance consultant, Italian-American, from Philadelphia; Han Chen, pianist from Taiwan. They are all part of iBoc, and the team keeps growing.
They were a group of friends and now they are an opera company, challenging what classical music both looks and sounds like. A group of people with a vision that will not go unnoticed in the Big Apple. As their start-up effort, they will be presenting a concert series with scenes from four operas by the three composers.
iBoc Debut concerts will happen in New York City, at Baruch’s Engelman Recital Hall on March 7th and 8th 2014. If you want to help this dream come true, you can pre-order CDs DVDs and souvenirs through their Kickstarter campaign, ending on January 20th:

Companies and businesses may also find attractive promotional opportunities through iBoc’s sponsorship packages, starting at different levels.

Contact Name: Mariana da Costa Pinto
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 646 744 9724