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São Paulo Contemporary Composers Festival


The Brazilian Ethnomusicology and Musicology Symposium puts students together with leaders in the field of Brazilian music scholarship. Held in São Paulo and Campinas Brazil, this ten-day program will expose students to Brazilian musical cultures; methods of responsible and effective fieldwork; and current research trajectories in indigenous, classical, and contemporary Brazilian music.


What makes the Brazilian Ethnomusicology and Musicology Symposium Unique? Because all students will:


  1. Learn, study, and experience a wide range of musics: Indigenous, Afro-Brazilian, classical, and popular

  2. Encounter Brazilian music first hand in São Paulo and Campinas

  3. Research and perform fieldwork under the guidance of national and international specialists of Brazilian music  

  4. Network and interact with Brazilian and international students



Downtown São Paulo


Xingu Museum


Museum of Art of São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand


Museu Afro-Brasil


Ibirapuera Park

Theatro Municipal (São Paulo)


Directed by Dr. Nicholas Johnson, The Brazilian Ethnomusicology and Musicology Symposium will feature numerous guest faculty who are experts in Brazilian music, and 21st-century music research. More are being added frequently, so check back here for updates!

Dr. Paulo de Tarso Salles (University of São Paulo)

Dr. Alik Wunder (University of Campinas)

Dr. Magda Dourado Pucci (Leiden University)

Dr. Marcelo Hazan (University of South Carolina)

Dr. Tom Moore (Florida International University)

Dr. Nicholas Johnson (Butler University)

Fernando Pereira Binder (São Paulo Municipal Music School (Escola Municipal de Música de São Paulo))



Overview: Participants of the BEMS will have a unique cultural opportunity to participate in three private workshops and a musical show presented by the Kariri-Xocó tribe.


The Kariri-Xocó people lives at the demarcated indigenous land Kariri-Xocó (Terra Indígena Kariri-Xocó) at the margin of the Saint Francis river (Rio São Francisco), at the municipality of Porto Real do Colégio, Alagoas. The Kariri-Xocó is an example of indigenous resistance at northeastern Brazil, managing to retain great portions of their culture despite being in contact with non-indigenous populations since around 1700. The village contains more than 550 families with different ethnicities, being most prominent the Kariri and the Xocó. The village is an “intersection of different cosmologies, inscribed on ancient, mythical, and sacred territories, empowered by a continuous cycle of creation and diffusion of knowledges.


Workshops: Participants of the BEMS will participate in the following three private workshops:

  • Working Chants Workshop (rojão) 

    • Rojão is a set of traditional working chants, sang during farming and building periods, and also sang during ordinary leisure activities, as a play time between men, women, and children. The rojão is sang by two people (pareias) who sing following a peculiar practice of the Brazilian northeastern indigenous populations.

    • The workshop will also have a discussion about the functions and meaning of the work chants and the participation of the audience, which is invited to sing along.

  • Conversation Session and Presentation of the Toré

    • The Toré is the main manifestation of the singing and dancing of the Kariri-Xocó people, which harmonize the collective spirit, guided by the rhythms of the maracas. “The maraca is played according to the heart beat tempo, respecting and following life’s rhythms. Waving this instrument with the hand is like turning the world.”  

    • The Toré by the Sabuká group is directed by Pawanã Crody and includes the singing and dancing participation of the entire group, with the audience joining in at the end. The event begins with a conversation session about the Kariri-Xocó culture.

  • Presentation of the video “Louceiras” (SESC, 2013) and conversation session with Kariri-Xocó women

    • The louceiras (crockery makers) are Kariri-Xocó artisans who use the mud from the Saint Francis River to make clay jars and other hand-made pieces. Containing interviews with these women, the video “Louceiras” is part of the book “Fulkaxó – ser e viver Kariri-Xocó” edited by Ulysses Fernandes (SESC, 2013). The documentary, directed by Tatiana Toffoli, shows the daily life of the louceiras at the Kariri-Xocó village at Porto Real do Colégio, Alagoas and their tradition of making clay devices; furthermore, the video documents their culture and rituals.

    • After watching the video, the audience is invited for a conversation session with the louceiras.


Concert: Participants of the BEMS will attend a multimedia concert, “Regain: a sound meeting with the Kariri-Xocó”

  • A multimedia show that celebrates the meeting of young artists from Campinas, SP and member of the group Sabuká Kariri-Xocó (Aldeia de Porto Real do Colégio - Alagoas). For the Kariri-Xocó the word retomada (regain) has a wide meaning, beyond the occupation of ancestral territories; it also refers to the recoup of their own culture, poetics, and knowledge. This concert combines the power of the torés and rojões (traditional chants and rituals) to the sound of musical instruments such as the viola, rabeca (folk violin), flute, accordion, violas de cabaça (special guitars, inherited from the troubadours), and percussion. The result consists of a carefully crafted fusion of the Kariri-Xocó practices with contemporary music. Directed by João Arruda, this show has been presented since 2012.

Photos by Raphael Valverde:

Retomada 1 foto de Raphael Valverde.jpg


Each day will consist of lectures, discussion on contemporary art, concerts, rehearsals, tours, and leisure time. A detailed schedule will be provided as the festival approaches. 


Participants will be housed in the Ibis Budget Frei Caneca, right next to the Consolação Subway Station and the Paulista Avenue, which is at the financial and cultural center of the city.  The area you will be staying is very accessible to the local transportation network.


São Paulo has a very efficient transportation system that is easy to navigate.  Upon your arrival to São Paulo, you will be greeted by festival administrators who will escort you to the hotel.  Your trip back to the airport will also be arranged.



Brazil has a new legislation for citizens from these 4 countries: US, Canada, Australia, and Japan. (more information here).

Other information can be found on your own country's Brazilian Consulate website. If you have any questions please contact us at


If accepted and you decide to come, you will receive a welcome packet covering the details of the schedule which will include a schedule, procedure for getting a VISA, suggested flight routes, your housing, when your score and parts should be submitted, how your friends and family can access the broadcast as well as details pertaining to travel insurance and what to pack for your stay. 


Applicants will be asked to submit a recent writing sample of 10 - 20 pages. The rigorous review process will begin in June. Adjudicators include scholars from the U.S., São Paulo, Vienna, London, and Belgrade. Should you be accepted to the program, you will be asked to submit a letter of intent stating your plan of attendance.  To secure your spot in the festival, you must submit a non-refundable $500 deposit within 30 days of your acceptance.


Program tuition: $2,000, includes:

If you would like to be considered for financial assistance please submit a merit-based essay (250 - 500 words) and a reference list with two to three references to

·      Fieldwork Recordings
·      Lectures and Workshops

·      Local Transportation
Kariri-Xocó Workshop & Concert

·      Cultural Activities

·      Housing




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