Emiliano Sampaio

Eight Works against Racism and Poverty for Jazz Symphonic Orchestra

composer, performer, director l jazz and symphonic music

These concerts present the artistic result of four years of artistic research in form of eight compositions for jazz symphony orchestra, which I am now bringing to the stage for the first time. With these pieces, I aim to artistically answer the question “how can we establish communication between jazz and classical musicians, empowering them to engage in collaboration in large ensemble contexts?” This main question led my artistic work to examine and explore the hierarchy organisation that is present and reproduced in large jazz ensembles. To look for alternative hierarchical social organisations in large jazz ensemble through my artistic practice, I focused my exploration on two main strategies which were intertwined: first, creating mechanisms to change the social dynamic in large ensembles, which explored a multi-directional relation between musicians, composer, conductor and notated music; and second, exploring the possibilities to incorporate improvisation in large ensemble contexts. The concept behind the compositions linked this work to important events that were part of the social discussions in 2020. In March 2020, Corona-Virus crises took place and on 25.May 2020, the murder of George Floyd in USA triggered a series of protests against racism all around the world. As a Brazilian living in Austria, I saw and see racism and poverty from very near as a structural social problem which became evident as never before with the Corona-Virus crises in Brazil. In Brazil, 56% of the population are declared black, being historically the poorest population, with less access to education, health care, etc, resulting also in the most affected group during the pandemic. I, as a white man from a middle class family always had a privileged position and at this point of my life, felt the urgency of using the power of being in a privileged social position and the historical responsibility to call attention to this subject that is still so present in the world and even in Austria. These thoughts triggered my desire to dedicate this large work, divided in eight pieces, to the fight against racism and poverty, which are connected problems and seem to be far from the end, and I hope that the more artists bring attention to this problem, the more we can achieve significant changes for our future. Musically speaking, this artistic work synthesised the discussion on hierarchy in large jazz ensembles by exploring improvisation and collaborative process. As Christopher Small points out, the relationships created during a musical performance are more the ideal, as imagined by the participants, than the present reality, but only by imagining, we can create the possibility for real changes.


Some videos about the research:

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