Laced with adrenaline and raw energy, the Music of Brazil Ensemble is infectious. From Carnival to samba, the ensemble focuses on a particular type of Brazilian music each quarter.
Ethnomusicology lecturer Kirk Brundage, who stumbled into the position of ensemble director three years ago, says he draws inspiration from the most authentic materials. Unlike a string orchestra, with it’s more technically complex instruments, Brazilian percussion is accessible to both beginners and pros who wish to be challenged by more complicated rhythm patterns.
“This music does allow people to enter without any previous musical experience. However it’s not the same as a drum circle at Venice Beach. I’m teaching them very specific musical language; everyone has a part to play, it just so happens that it’s not written down,” Brundage said.
This accessibility for all levels of musical expertise leads to an ensemble made of students from all over campus. According to Brundage, only about half of the ensemble is ethnomusicology students. The other half consists of students from other majors who joined the ensemble for non-major credit or personal enjoyment. No matter their reason for joining, members of the ensemble feel free to cut loose and create their characteristic energy. Ensemble students further embody the high energy of Brazilian percussion by dancing during their performances that feature Carnival music.