Vol. 27 Issue 1 Reviews
Electroacoustic Evening, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Fourth Meeting of Latin-American Composers and Performers, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 25 May–1 June 2002

Reviewed by Carlos Palombini
Belo Horizonte, Brazil

The Fourth Meeting of Latin-American Composers and Performers took place from Saturday, 25 May to Saturday, 1 June, 2002, in the Artistic Education Foundation of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, which held similar meetings in 1986, 1988, and 1992. Saturday morning, speeches by representatives of local, state, and national authorities opened the event—conjuring up images of the 1940s and 1950s, when the "great composer" was an important component of the state apparatus—to an audience of long- if receding-haired masters. In the evening, Teodomiro Goulart's piece for 12 spinning guitars and twelve static performers triggered off a series of 18 concerts, showing that non-electroacoustic experimentalism is alive and well in the Southern Cone. Named MinaSonora (SoundMine) but dubbed Os violocopteros (The Guitarcopters) by its players, the piece attracted a following of its own. Electroacoustic works by Dante Grella, Flo Menezes, Daniel Quaranta, Rodolfo Coelho de Souza, and Rogério Vasconcelos appeared amid non-electroacoustic pieces in subsequent programs. In addition, the early evening of Friday, 31 May, was entirely devoted to the art of electroacoustic composition.

The Foundation's Sérgio Magnani Music Room is an acoustic jewel. Equipped with a set of four loudspeakers, however, it is hardly the ideal setting for an electroacoustic soirée. It is difficult to say anything about Sérgio Freire's recent Quatro sketches em movimento (Four Sketches in Movement), for live percussion, prerecorded sounds, and real-time signal-processing, other than that it would have benefited from a dress rehearsal. The excellent percussionist, Fernando Rocha, performed as best he could but was eventually knocked out by not exactly the right sound coming in not exactly in the right place.

Ana Cláudia de Assis interpreted Eduardo Reck Miranda's Grain Streams (2000), for piano, prerecorded sounds, and real-time signal-processing, taking advantage of the antagonism between a highly eclectic piano part—where major triads rub shoulders with Boulezian écriture—and the sound morphologies of the processed material. Whether such dichotomies constituted the piece's weakness or its strength was a matter of debate among the cognoscenti.
Maurício Loureiro presented Fernando Iazzetta's Tangerina (Tangerine), for clarinet and real-time sound-processing. Using Max patches in a subtle, almost decorative, manner to enhance and amplify the instrument's resources, Mr. Iazzetta hit a note with the majority of the audience, whether familiar with electroacoustic idioms or not.

Rodolfo Caesar provided a suitable climax with Ranap-Gaô (2001), for recorded sounds and a video by Simone Michelin. The Tupi-sounding name, an acronym for araponga, evokes the campanero or bell-bird of South America, whose unmusical calls, resembling the strokes of a hammer on an anvil, that Mr. Caesar synthesized (a real araponga apparently having turned up at the composer's window as soon as the piece was finished). In a similar way to the surreal images of Ms. Michelin's video, Mr. Caesar's sounds retained all their ambiguity, their nature—elektronische or concrète?—always a mystery. The audience responded with great excitement and only one doubt: "will he be able to keep it up?" This he did, in great style. The compactness of the ambience and the flatness of the sound diffusion enhanced the impact of the piece.

The concert concluded with Neder José Nassaro's 2000-2001 Concreto Armado (Reinforced Concrete) for soprano, sung by Doriana Mendes, and pre-recorded electronic sounds. Subjecting an instance of what has become known as concrete poetry ("the hammer hammers," etc.) to a plethora of manipulations, Mr. Nassaro engendered a sense of high modernist malaise in whose presence no one booed.

Youthful, knowledgeable, and warm, the audience was a highlight and packed the 200-seat room beyond capacity on a daily basis. Passing on knowledge of and taste for contemporary music to the new generations of the Minas Gerais state has been the charge of Berenice Menegale, the contemporary music pianist who has been leading the Artistic Education Foundation from its inception. The final concert saw her rewarded with a heartfelt ovation.