Brazil’s Sistine Chapel?

November 19, 2013 by

  • I gave a recital last night at the Federal University in Natal with Durval Cesetti and Felipe Avellar de Aquino. It went very well and it was great fun seeing all the student cellists again afterwards. I will miss that class of Fabio’s. I have a photo of all of us on the stage after the concert, but am having technical difficulties and so will post this one instead, of the teachers, taken during a morning walk. I think it was taken around 9am.


Yesterday morning, the Aquinos brought me to Joao Pessoa, or as Sandra put it, on toward Step Two of my Brazil travels. (I suppose that there are at least 5 Steps!) She also explained how to create the nasal sound found in so many Portuguese words, including her city. ┬áThere is supposed to be a tilde (~) over the a in Joao… ┬áMy recital here will be on Thursday and here is the lovely poster:


Yesterday, Felipe gave me a tour of his city. Such amazing sights! A peninsula that sticks out into the ocean and is the first piece of land in the Americas to greet the waves from Africa, then atop that hill, a modern structure built by the architect of Brasilia, whose name is Niemeyer I think, and lastly, this 16th century church, the Convent of Saint Anthony. I got very excited because I had never before heard of the style known as “Tropical Baroque”


Because the convent was built over a 200-year period, there are many different styles. Here you can see the beautiful blue Portuguese tile and the detail of the artist in rendering the face of Jesus:

I like this dapper-looking angel too!


It was the ceiling that took my breath away. So detailed, brilliantly colored, and in the trompe d’oeuil manner, it was hard to believe that the surface was flat.


Legend has it that a an underground tunnel runs from the convent to the river, several blocks away. Felipe said it was used to escape from Dutch invaders!

If I can make this little tiny computer do my bidding, I’ll post again before heading south to Rio on Friday.

4 Responses to Brazil’s Sistine Chapel?

  1. Anne Hooper Webb

    The blog is wonderful, Natasha! I feel as if we are along on the trip with you! I keep imagining South America as a lot of jungle, despite my history lessons. Your pictures of the extraordinary architecture are a sharp reminder of the wealth of culture down there, over the ages!

  2. Tas Skorupa

    Hey Natasha, wish i could be with you in Brazil! And very curious to hear which piece by Brahms you will be playing. I’d love to try opus 38 with you! There is a beautiful Steinway waiting for you in Pelham — M & I will be there Dec. 20 to 29. Otherwise we’d love to have you in Berlin next summer/fall, where we are making plans for our salon. Hugs, Tas

  3. Jan McVicker

    Natasha, what a treat to be on tour with you ! thanks for including us in your amazing experiences! The beach, cashew fruit and sun help push away the November gloom of Fredonia in this frenetic week before thanksgiving break. The energy of your new collaborations and performances comes palpably through the words, even without the images (but lovely images too). I’m so happy you’re having such a wonderful, rich sabbatical experience!

    Sunday night on ’60 Minutes’ they had a brilliant little piece on a rag-tag orchestra in Paraguay; you felt near as I watched the piece. Here’s a link: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50159357n which I think you’ll enjoy. (if it doesn’t work somehow you should be able to cut and paste; the show aired Nov 17).

    Safe travels! Jan

  4. Rozzy Hooper-Hamersley

    Tashy the beautiful Portuguese blue tile is exquisite and so touching. I will use your picture of the tropical Baroque the next time I teach that period in my CIV II classes – supremely beautiful.


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