Ricardo works with a similar arts and homelessness organisation back in Rio - a choir for homeless men. He is visiting the UK as part of a Brazilian/UK exchange to learn how we run arts projects and how they can use this knowledge in Brazil. Here’s what happened when we invited him to our rehearsal…
The Choir with No Name have been learning Portuguese, it’s true! It’s quite a daunting task, to sing a song in another language, but our North London choir took on the challenge as Ricardo led us line by line.
After rehearsal Ricardo joined us for dinner and got to properly meet our members. Just as I asked him what he hoped to get from his visit to the UK, one of our members introduced herself and reeled off some very impressive Portuguese, after chatting for a while he turned back to me, smiled and said,
‘To meet people like that…and people who are inspired to help.’ He gestured to our volunteers cooking up a storm in the kitchen.
‘…Brazil and the UK, it’s all very similar from what I’ve seen, the numbers (of homeless people) may be bigger in Brazil but the individual experiences are still the same. When we were in Manchester (where some of the Brazilian visitors met the Liverpool choir), we saw how they work, we exchanged experiences. I’ve come here, to CWNN to learn the way you work and the format of what’s successful to take home to Rio.’
And it’s not just about meeting the UK exchange organisations (which are listed below), it’s about the Brazilian delegation as a whole, ‘We are travelling together, eating breakfast together… it’s important we are spending time together and bonding. It’s very difficult to get funding (for arts projects in Brazil)… the first step is to build a network together.’
And so, the Choir with No Name got to sing their version of Girl from Ipanema (in both Portuguese and English) at City Hall with Ricardo looking on proudly. It even sparked some samba from the crowd…take a look at our video here!
The following night, it was South London’s turn to host, as we welcomed our Brazilian guests for an evening of samba and singing! This video captures how singing really can connect people, even when you don't speak the same language.
And what are his thoughts on his first experiences of a CWNN rehearsal? ‘The project is marvellous and I love it. It’s very impressive for me, I’m a fan! All the ways that are taught –expression, movement, voice, all help the members not to be shy and it adds confidence, to be part of a group. It’s not just here (in rehearsal) it’s more, after a gig or rehearsal they think and feel ‘Look what I just did – what else can I achieve?’ ’