Marian University Music Professor Hosts Rio Grande Brazil Student Orchestra

by Glendal Jones | Apr 22, 2024

Marian University Professor Paulo Castro, a pianist and choir director at Marian’s Steffen Music Center, found himself at the heart of a remarkable collaboration that transcended borders and united souls through the universal language of music.

”It all began when the OJRS, (OJRS: Orquestra Jovem do Rio Grande do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul Youth Orchestra, in Portuguese) from Brazil, embarked on a journey to Indianapolis, graciously sponsored by the sister cities organization, 'Partner of the Americas', as part of their prestigious international awards program, explained professor Castro. “This ensemble, comprised of talented students from Rio Grande do Sul State, selected based on their remarkable musical abilities, a testament to the transformative power of music education. "

The orchestra's visit unfolded in February as Marian University emerged as a pivotal local sponsor, opening its doors to host a series of enriching experiences for both the visiting musicians and Marian students and faculty. Jazz clinics, campus tours, private classes, and interactions with MU's vibrant community laid the foundation for a week filled with musical discovery and cultural exchange.

“Amidst the excitement of hosting this talented ensemble, I was approached by Partners of the Americas with a unique request – to have the orchestra arrange and perform one of my compositions during their tour, professor Castro explained. “It was an honor beyond measure, and without hesitation, I selected 'Paz' (Peace), a song I crafted as a humble plea for peace through melody.”

Originally conceived as a solo piece, 'Paz' had resonated with audiences at The Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis, where it premiered a few years back, but was reborn in the hands of the OJRS, fully orchestrated and ready to grace the stage of Marian’s Bishop Chartrand Chapel. As the haunting strains of 'Paz' filled the air, professor Castro said he witnessed the transformative power of music unfold, transcending cultural barriers and touching the hearts of all who listened.

With more than 200 people who attended, the chapel became a sanctuary of musical unity, where Marian University students and faculty, local community leaders, and Hoosiers alike came together in shared appreciation for the beauty of human expression. But the impact of the orchestra's visit extended far beyond those walls, as interactions throughout the week planted seeds of inspiration in the hearts of future musicians, many of whom expressed a desire to return to study at Marian University.

“As the final notes of 'Paz' faded into silence, I couldn't help but reflect on the profound truth that music, in its purest form, has the power to bridge divides and unite humanity in a symphony of shared experience, professor Castro added. “In that moment, surrounded by the harmonies of newfound friendship, I knew that our collaboration with the OJRS had not only enriched our community, but had also planted seeds of hope and harmony that would continue to flourish for years to come.”


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