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Brazil 2024

It is so wonderful to be traveling again! I had planned a trip to Brazil for March of 2020. The day I was scheduled to fly was the day when everything came to a grinding halt for all of us due to the pandemic. Finally, in January of 2024 I have been able to resume my travels.

My adventure started in São Paulo where I met up with several friends from the United States who have a shared interest in vocal improvisation and body percussion. We had all signed up for a retreat with Musica Do Circulo, whose founders we had met previously at Bobby McFerrin workshops in the US and then studied with online during the pandemic. We had arranged to meet up and stay together in São Paulo for a few days before beginning the retreat. Here we are at a small club - Julinho Clube - that we had heard about through some friends. The music was fabulous! I think you can tell by the expression on our faces how much fun we were having!

São Paulo is a beautiful city and I was particularly struck by the murals which are everywhere on the sides of buildings, large and small.

After a few days exploring the city we caught the bus to the Espaco Natureza Arco-Iris retreat center. Some images below give a sense of where we spent the following week singing and dancing.

It is hard to convey the experience of the retreat and the practices we experienced there but here is a short video from the first day that gives an idea.

And here are some words from the MdC website which describe the work as "music that is born from the encounter between people, created in the present moment, with bodies and voices in connection as an instrument". For more go to the Musica Do Circulo website. It's hard to explain but it is definitely wonderful and powerful and an experience that I plan to repeat!

Part of the magic of the retreat was the time in between sessions during our breaks for tea and coffee and snacks. The music basically never stopped. Here is a little video that I took during a break when the songs that were sung happened to be two that we had learned and performed at the last two Winter Concerts with the Martha's Vineyard Family Chorus!

It was so wonderful to be part of a community in which there was a never ending number of songs that everyone knew and could sing together with great enthusiasm and pleasure - making music for music's sake. My dream come true!

And the environment where it all took place couldn't have been more beautiful. The flowers! Here are some images from my morning walks.

At the end of the retreat we all returned to São Paulo and had a day of rest, participated in a performance, and then had a day of workshops with local artists. My cup was overflowing with music and and a community of rich relationships created and deepened. The power of music! I feel like I now have family not only in cities all over Brazil but in countries around the world because the Musica Do Circulo family is an international one. I am so grateful and look forward to next year! What a beautiful community!

The second part of my trip to Brazil involved a visit to my dear friend, Claudia Macedo, and her husband, stone artist Lew French, at their amazing farm in Bananal, São Paulo. After a long car journey from São Paulo and a good night's sleep I woke up in paradise! (Video taken at sunrise from the bedroom I stayed in.)

The house itself is a work of art as can be seen from this image taken from Lew's website.

The house is amazing but the view out of every one of the doors that are open during the day is even more magnificent. The farm is located on the side of a mountain in the Atlantic rain forest. A stream runs down the mountain next to the house and there is a beautiful waterfall above with a pool at the bottom. Flowers and butterflies are everywhere! What a glorious place to spend some time digesting all I had experienced during the retreat.

There is a reason it's called a rain forest! This happened pretty much every afternoon.

While Lew works on projects with wood and stone Claudia has become passionate about playing a part in the reforestation of the Atlantic rain forest where she lives and in the surrounding area. She has started a non-profit, Instituto Biosfera, to that end, and has helped to plant thousands of trees. Read about her work in this article in the Martha's Vineyard Times - One tree at a time.

I felt so fortunate to experience the rain forest through Claudia's eyes as we hiked on the farm and on a special visit to the Ecological Station of Bananal higher up in the mountains.

I had another opportunity to swim in a waterfall which I took full advantage of!

The last part of my trip involved a short visit to the coastal towns of Paraty and Trindade with Claudia and a sweet travel companion and friend of Claudia's named Neto. So much beauty! And more swimming!

Claudia and Neto in Trindade beginning our hike

on a trail through the rain forest to a beautiful beach

On the road to the coast