On Monday morning, LaGrange College President Dan McAlexander presented the last lecture in the college’s 2013 3D, Discover-Discuss-Develop, Journeys “Rhythm of Brazil” series.
McAlexander’s presentation, “Brazilian Inspired Music,” was attended by a near capacity audience.
The LaGrange College First Lady Celeste Myall welcomed everyone to the program and gave a short evaluation of the 2013 Journey series.
“Good Morning and welcome to the last of our 2013 series lectures… first of all, I would like to say how delighted we are that you are here, it is wonderful to see you all here for these lectures,” Myall said. “And also, to say this program (the 2013 3d Journey series) has exceeded, beyond what we have hoped and I wish we could take credit , Martha (Pirkle) and I, but I think we always need to recognize our committee, who has worked so hard.”
Myall then recognized all of the 3D Journey committee members, asking them to stand one by one, and then thanked them for their help. She then introduced Provost David Garrison who then introduced McAlexander, as the day’s presenter.
Garrison first met McAlexander back in the fall of 2009 when he was first interviewing for his present position at the college. Garrison gave a detailed description of his first impressions of McAlexander.
“After I met with him, I then called Donna (Barger, his wife) to say that I wanted to work for that man. He has honesty, integrity, intelligence, courage, fiery commitment and wit,” Garrison said. “The last three and a half years have proven to me over and over again just how wise I was.”
After Garrison finished stating McAlexander’s educational background, McAlexander then began the program.
McAlexander opened his presentation with a short clip of the well-known Brazilian song “The Girl from Ipanema,” which was written by Antonio Carlos ”Tom” Jobim and was sung by Astrud Giberto with Stan Getz accompanying her on tenor saxophone.
“This is not going to be a music appreciation lecture, not going to be a music history lecture, but what it is going to be is a 3D Journeys lecture. As a matter of fact, we are going to be traveling together. We are going to take that trip that we decided not to take this year, and we are going to do it the one one way I know how and that is to do it virtually,” McAlexander said. “And like all good 3D Journey trips, we start at Sunny Gables, with a bus ride to the airport.”
Alexander continued: “We are going to travel to a foreign land and we are going to see what we are going to discover about the people, the places, the practices and the passions that contribute to the music. This is going to be a lecture that focuses fairly selectively on samba and the outgrowth of samba, bossa nova.”
McAlexander then used Google Earth to virtually move his audience from LaGrange first to Salvador and then to Bahia, Brazil.
McAlexander gave credit to the Portuguese and to the Catholic church for influencing the early music of Brazil, with the Portuguese openness to cultural diversity and the Catholic Church’s ability to adapt to the local cultures. He then cited the Atlantic African slave trade as being responsible for the African influence in Brazilian music.
Capoeira, a martial art, was put to music by the African slaves to hide its true origins. In slavery, Capoeira masqueraded as a dance and thus did not threaten the landowners while it became the music of resistance and of hope for the slaves.
McAlexander also touched upon the role of the indigenous peoples on the influence of Brazilian music.
McAlexander discussed the origins of the music and dance of Lundu, maxixe and then the samba. Lundu had its roots first from the music of Bantu in Africa and then later was refined by the Portuguese. Maxixe, is a combination of Lundu, polka, Cuban Habanera, and later, Argentine Tango. The samba began at the end of slavery in Brazil when there was a large migration to Bahia.
Throughout his presentation, McAlexander’s explanations and remarks often had the audience members laughing. McAlexander had selected clips from the Internet that were entertaining as well as informative.
McAlexander steered his virtual tour with a stop at Rio da Janeriro where he escorted his travelers to Sambadrome, the permanent parade structure that is used for Carnival. The Rio Carnival is a four day celebration that takes place 40 days before Easter. McAlexander said that samba composers start to write their music in June in hopes that their composition will win the honor of being used during Carnival. Samba schools also start very early to prepare their elaborate Carnival dances. Some of the larger samba schools can have upwards of 4,000 students perform during Carnival.
“Bossa nova developed in the areas of Copacabana and in the neighborhoods that surrounded the beach there… they were trying to find a way to take samba to the next step or a new way, and they did so,” McAlexander said. “Bossa nova was a very short-lived sort of development. The music was popular with the middle-class in the late 50s to mid 60s and it was pushed aside by, the same thing that pushed aside so many things in this country, that is the British invasion. As the Beatles came, and the other British groups came, it became kind of old school.”
McAlexander concluded, “It is time for us to say goodbye and fly back home where we will begin to think about our next trip, thank you.”
LaGrange College’s 2014 3D Journey International series will focus on Spain. All of the details for the lecture series and the trip will be announced and explained at the Sept. 23rd meeting to be held at 10 a.m. in Turner Hall.
LaGrange College is also going to be sponsoring a single lecture on Oct. 21, by English Professor Anthony Wilson which will be on Flannery O’Connor’s short story collection “A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Short Stories.”
On Oct. 29 a day trip is planned to Andalusia, the home of American author Flannery O’Connor, in Milledgeville. Registration for this event begins on April 22nd.
For more information, call the office of Alumni and Community Relations at 706-880-8244 or email 3DJourneys@lagrange.edu.