Celebrating the Underdog of Brazilian Music


By Pete McCue

Staff Reporter 

On Tuesday, Feb. 28 Sacred Heart University’s Academic Music Department celebrated Moacir Santos in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit.

Santos was a Brazilian musician and composer who influenced other musicians like Paulo Moura, Roberto Menescal, Carlos Lyra and Flora Purim.

The event included Director of Academic Music Programs Joe Carter on guitar and Adjunct Professor Ali Ryerson on flute.

Carter and Ryerson performed some of Santos’s songs such as “April Child,” “Lembre-Se” and “Luanne.”

“What always attracted me to his music was the fact that it doesn’t sound like anybody else’s. In those eight tunes, there is something in each one of them that is unexpected. He throws something in to change it up,” said Carter. “It is almost like he doesn’t want you to fall in a rut.”

Carter found Santos to be unique in his compositions because of the surprises in his songs.

“‘April Child is the most definitive in my opinion. It doesn’t sound like anything else because he uses Brazilian rhythms in such a way that makes it distinctive,” said Carter.

Santos’s music was meant to be played by 10 to 12 musicians. However, Carter and Ryerson used their musical skills to make it possible for a duo.

“It was great to see how both the guitar and flute were in harmony together,” said junior Laura Smith.

Both Carter and Ryerson chose to celebrate Santos because of their shared appreciation of his music.

Ryerson learned of Santos from traveling to Brazil and playing with Brazilian musicians. That’s when she fell in love with his music pieces.

“We both love his music and it is underplayed and underperformed,” said Ryerson.

According to the Latin Jazz Network, Santos was an orphaned child who lived a life of misery until he turned 14. That is when he credited musical rhythm beginning to become a part of his soul.

In 1965, he recorded his first “masterpiece,” “Coisas;” which is known as one of the greatest pieces of Brazilian music.

“My favorite song was ‘Lembre-Se’ because the guitar and flute solos were excellent to listen to. I enjoyed the relaxation and soft timbre of the piece,” said Smith. “Both instruments had a great accompaniment during the solos.”

According to the program, Santos was nominated for a Grammy award in 1968 for his album, “The Maestro.” Not only did he compose his own music, he wrote arrangements such as “Vinicius de Moraes e Odete Lara” and composed the soundtrack for the 1970 documentary film, “Love in the Pacific.”

In 1996, Santos was decorated by the President of the Republic of Brazil as Oficial da Ordem do Rio Branco. He was also paid tribute at the Brazilian Summer Festival.

Several of Santos compositions were transcribed and recorded on a CD before he passed away on April 6, 2006.

“He just had a gift and a desire to be a musician and didn’t let anything stand in his way,” said Carter.

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