The University of Tennessee at Martin Percussion Studio (Julie Hill, Director) traveled to Salvador da Bahia, Brazil from May 15-22, 2011. The students took capoeira lessons (an Afro-Brazilian style of martial arts disguised as a dance and practiced clandestinely by slaves until 1888 as a means of staying fit) from Mestre Moraes and percussion lessons from Mestre Mario Pam (the percussion leader of the first Bloco Afro Ilê Aiyê). Our students also attended performances of many other percussion groups including the all-female Bloco Afro Escola Didá.
The UTM studio also participated in additional percussion lessons, cultural exchange sessions, and clinics with the percussion studio at Universidade Federal da Bahia (UFBA) in Salvador under the direction of Jorge Sacramento. The culmination of this exchange was a collective concert featuring both studios on Thursday May 19th at the UFBA School of Music. The finale of this concert was a premiere written by Hill for the event entitled, "Lembranças" in which both studios performed together. The ensemble wishes to thank the UTM SGA, Dr. Lynn Alexander and the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, Dr. Margaret Toston and Student Affairs, the UTM music department, and all the faculty, staff, and community members that helped support us in this endeavor. We additionally want to thank my percussion industry supporters, Innovative Percussion, Pearl/Adams, Zildjian, Evans, and Gover as well as our friend Mike Balter at Mike Balter Mallets for all their aid to the UFBA percussion studio.
The UTM students were absolutely wonderful in their openness to diversity and experiences in a new and diverse culture in Salvador, Brazil. They were great ambassadors of UTM and the USA at large. We are so grateful to everyone that helped us with a truly life changing experience that the students nor I will ever forget. New hearts and minds, both in Brazil and within our UTM students, are open as a result of this exchange and the world has become just a little smaller place for us.