Keeping Rio Youth Off the Streets

Jozef Kapustka (at keyboard) and the youth of the Orquestra de Cordas da Grota take a break during one of their rehearsals.

 (Photo by Wilfred Paulse)

Coaching a youth orchestra can always lead to surprises, but Jozef Kapustka (BM ’92, piano) wrote The Journal that coaching the youth string orchestra Orquestra de Cordas da Grota, which in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, was “particularly dramatic.” Kapustka was there from November 2010 through January 2011, and, he reported, “during this period, as widely covered by the media reports worldwide, special police units launched a massive military operation in what was later described as the worst drug bust related violence in recent history. The Bach in Rio project resulted in series of performances and recordings of selected Bach keyboard concertos including some at prestigious central Rio venues such as the Centro Cultural Justica Federal. The Orquestra de Cordas da Grota was established some 15 years ago by Marcio Selles and Lenora Mendes of Fluminense Federal University, and it provides a very efficient alternative to the reality of everyday violence, keeping youth off the streets by channeling them through the structure and placingthem in local musical training institutions and thus facilitating their further professionalization. It has a tremendous and unsuspected power to change young lives by providing a clear, well-defined path in life and a realistic goal.”



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