ALEJANDRO BRITTES QUARTET TO TOUR US IN SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER
Performance venues include Library of Congress (DC), The Trust Performing Arts Center (PA), Creative Alliance (MD), Georgetown University (DC), Queens Theatre (NYC), Levitt Pavilion (CT)
Chamamé – just like tango – has been declared as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Argentine accordionist, composer and researcher Alejandro Brittes, who will tour in the U.S. this September and October, has been declared one of the foremost contemporary chamamé ambassadors and innovators.
Born of the centuries-long interaction between ritual practices of indigenous Guaraní and the Baroque music influences brought by Jesuits in the Mission period (16th to 18th Centuries), chamamé can be conceived of as a ritual that seeks to communicate with the Earth and the Universe and maintain harmony among humans, through music and dance that lead participants to moments of trance. Often this ecstasy is viscerally expressed by participants through a sapucay, a piercing, spontaneous ancestral yell to release strong emotions pent up inside.
In Buenos Aires, chamamé was discriminated against and criminalized for decades (much like other popular music such as tango). Alejandro Brittes´s parents migrated from the interior of the Province of Corrientes to Buenos Aires, where his father was a pioneering chamamé event organizer and his mother a chamamé radio host, both attending to the cultural needs of the rural migrant community in the city. It was in this environment that Brittes was born and raised, amongst the most-respected chamamé musicians and ensembles, beginning his professional career at 15 years old.
Chamamé has also been described as a “danced prayer”. Performed in 6/8 time, a meter that is widely used in diverse human societies to enter into trance and communication with the Universe, the musical elements of chamamé reflect its ritual origins and spiritual values of its originators, forged in the context of the Missions, crucibles of effervescent intercultural musical activity.
The chamamé guitar maintains a percussive mantra that is reminiscent of Guaraní ritual music, and the accordion – with its expressive power – employs its low left-hand to connect with the Earth and the human realm, and its piercing right-hand melody to reach up to the Universe and the Divine. Embraced dancing couples circle around the outdoor spaces where chamamé is traditionally performed, at times breaking into percussive footwork to accompany the music. The accordion evokes the bellowed Baroque organs constructed by skilled Guaraní artisans in the Mission period, a period that was violently cut short by the imperial aspirations of Spain and Portugal in the late 18th Century.
Brittes´s latest artistic work is focused on exploring, evoking, and innovating upon the ancestral heritage of chamamé, which has survived great challenges throughout history to flourish today. Interpreting historical repertoire created in the Missions, and original compositions, Brittes collaborates with a Baroque orchestra on his project “(L)Este”, and also performs chamamé classics and original material with his Quartet. Based in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, the Quartet is composed of: Alejandro Brittes (accordion), André Ely (7-stringed guitar), Charlise Bandeira (flute), and Carlos de Césaro (contrabass).
For 2023 U.S. touring, Alejandro Brittes Quartet is supported by Iber Exchange, a program of Mid Atlantic Arts with support from the National Endowment for the Arts in collaboration with Ibermúsicas. In September and October of 2023 the Quartet will be featured at prestigious U.S. venues and institutions such as: Library of Congress (DC), The Trust Performing Arts Center (PA), Georgetown University (DC), Queens Theatre (NYC), Creative Alliance (MD), Levitt Pavilion (CT), among others.
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