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Wednesday , August 12 2020

Youth musicians escape violence – Concert for pope

RIO DE JANEIRO, May 31, (Agencies): Just rehearsing could get them shot. But for the youth musicians of one of Rio de Janeiro’s most violent slums, their bravery will pay off Saturday with a concert in front of the pope.

Twenty-six amateur musicians aged between 14 and 19 will perform for Pope Francis and an audience also including 400 children brought from areas of central Italy devastated in earthquakes.

It will fulfill a dream for the young Brazilians. Their Orchestra of Tomorrow’s Mare, named for the Mare favela (slum), had been scheduled to play during the pope’s visit for World Youth Day in 2013, but the performance was cancelled in heavy rain.

“We were really sad because we had prepared special pieces for him,” said cellist Debora Santos, 18, up at Rio’s towering statue of Christ the Redeemer, where the original concert was meant to have taken place.

“It’s really gratifying to see all our efforts rewarded four years later,” Santos said.

The road to Rome is long from the Mare, a crowded warren of alleys and small streets where heavily armed drug dealers hold sway.

Clashes during aggressive police raids result in frequent episodes of stray bullets injuring and killing bystanders.

The Mare Networks group, a non-governmental organization, said there have been 18 violent deaths in the favela between January and April this year — more than in all of 2016.

A police operation meant that on Monday, two of the musicians were unable to join the rest of the orchestra for a farewell Catholic Mass up by Christ the Redeemer on the Corcovado.

“We’ve had to cancel many rehearsals because of the violence,” said double bassist Bruno Costa, 16.

He also has a very unique problem with his enormous instrument: “It’s very complicated for me to get around, because of its huge size. The drug traffickers think I’m carrying a weapon or even a body!”

The orchestra was founded by Carlos Eduardo Prazeres in 2010 as a way of rebuilding his life after the murder in 1999 of his father, a famous conductor called Armando Prazeres. His blood-stained car was found in the Mare.

Seven years later the project is active in all the Mare’s schools and has taught 2,200 children.

“Many of them are prisoners of their surroundings, with very limited horizons. But today our young musicians dream of studying in Vienna and playing in great orchestras,” Prazeres said.

Santos, the cellist, said she fell in love with classical music and the instrument when she heard Bach on the internet. “I’m sure I can go far if I work hard. My dream is to play for the Berlin Philharmonic.”

In Rome, the pope will get a smattering of traditional Brazilian music but also two tangos from his Argentine homeland.

Pope Francis will be given a white violin signed by students and be asked to autograph another that the musicians will bring back to their friends in the Mare.

“They only dream of getting out of the Mare,” Prazeres said. “I wanted to change that, to show that peace is possible.”


“Jagged Little Pill,” the blockbuster 1995 feminist rock album by Alanis Morissette, will take on a new form next year as a musical.

The piece will turn the album’s music into a story about “a modern and multi-generational family and their complex dynamics, touching on issues of gender identity and race,” producers said in a statement.

The “Jagged Little Pill” musical is set to open in May 2018 at the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The musical will be directed by Diane Paulus, the theater’s artistic director who led Broadway revivals of “Hair” and “Pippin,” with a script by Diablo Cody, who wrote the breakaway 2007 movie hit “Juno” about teen pregnancy.

Morissette hailed the chemistry with Paulus and Cody and called the project “my musical theater dream come true.”

The director and writer “are already taking these deeply personal songs that are part of my soul’s marrow to a whole other level of hope, freedom and complexity,” Morissette said in a statement.


With hit songs such as “You Oughta Know,” “You Learn” and “Hand in My Pocket,” the album was considered a declaration of female empowerment as Morissette brought an assertive rock voice to tales of modern living and relationship angst.

She won the Grammy for Album of the Year for “Jagged Little Pill” when she was 21, making her the youngest artist ever at the time to win the prestigious award.

The album’s songs will be worked into stage form by Tom Kitt, who also worked on the musical adaptation of Green Day’s “American Idiot.”

The musical plans for “Jagged Little Pill” had been announced several years ago without details.

Morissette recently reappeared in the news when her former business manager was sentenced to six years in prison for stealing nearly $5 million from her.


The musical “On Your Feet!” on the lives of Cuban-American crossover sensations Gloria and Emilio Estefan will close on Broadway after a respectable run of nearly two years, the production said Tuesday.

The musical, which traces the lives of the husband-wife music team set to hits such as “Conga” and “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” will close August 20, the Marquis Theatre said.

But “On Your Feet!” will quickly have a new life in October, with both a previously announced US tour starting in Miami, the Estefans’ home, and an international production to open in the Dutch city of Utrecht.

Gloria and Emilio Estefan, who were both born in Cuba, became international stars with Miami Sound Machine as the couple discovered a new audience by infusing pop songs with Latin rhythms.

The musical charts the professional rise of the couple as well as off-stage drama, including Gloria’s mother’s initial reluctance to accept Emilio, and a 1990 bus crash that seriously injured Gloria and raised fears she would never perform again.

“On Your Feet!”, with actors playing the Estefans, premiered in Chicago in June 2015 before opening on Broadway in November that year following a month of previews.

The nearly two-year run marks a successful but not historic run on Broadway, where a number of major musicals show no sign of ever closing.

After a strong opening, “On Your Feet!” was at two-thirds capacity during 2016 and slightly less so this year, according to the Broadway League trade group.

The musical, which was a strong seller in the initial months of a Broadway run that began in October 2015, has seen weekly grosses slacken notably in more recent weeks. The production, which hasn’t yet recouped its initial investment, will stick around on Broadway through the tourism-fueled weeks of the summer in order to pull in as much Broadway revenue as it can before it shutters.

The national tour of “On Your Feet!,” currently mapped out for 80 stops around the country, will have its opening run in the Estefans’ home city of Miami starting Oct. 5 (following a preview run in Buffalo). The first international production — ahead of planned stagings in Spain, Mexico and Japan, among other countries — will open in Utrecht Oct. 29.

With a score drawn from the work of the Estefans and the Miami Sound Machine and a book by “Birdman” Oscar winner Alex Dinelaris, “On Your Feet!” tells the life stories of both Gloria and Emilio Estefan, including Gloria Estefan’s fight to walk again after a bus accident. Jerry Mitchell (“Kinky Boots!”) directs, with choreography by Sergio Trujillo.

Produced by James L. Nederlander, Estefan Enterprises and Bernie Yuman, “On Your Feet!” will close Aug. 20 at Broadway’s Marquis Theater.

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