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It’s a Wrap in Recife


Old Town Recife

I paused and looked out the hotel window this morning, as I ate my breakfast… It is hard to believe we’re leaving Recife tomorrow… The beach, the sun, the palm trees, the old city, and the high rises. It feels like we just arrived. I’m excited for our next stop, Belém, Brazil, and we’re eager for the collaborations we have lined up there, but we will certainly miss Recife.


Our U.S. Consulate team, and the Band (from left): Matt, Lesleigh, Tony, Ben, & Stuart


(From Left): Tony, Rita, Lesleigh, & Ben

It was the perfect way to begin our tour. We were met by a thoughtful and attentive U.S. Consulate team. Our new colleagues and friends Matt, Stuart, Rita (our translator who became teary-eyed, today, when we parted ways. She told us that programs like ours are why she became a translator. It was a really meaningful, and genuine compliment. We were all touched.), and Joanna were wonderful hosts, and we will carry memories of our time together with us, always.

Our final day of programming took us to the old town neighborhood of the city. Brightly colored old buildings and cobblestone streets and sidewalks, food carts, stray dogs, the ocean, graffiti, teams setting up for a street festival, and old jungle-like trees supported by metal rods all tell of the neighborhood’s age and unique, urban charm.


Tony and Maestro Nenéu

We attended a symphonic wind band rehearsal conducted by Maestro Nenéu, a fellow adaptive musician, at the Teatro Santa Isabel. The 166 year old theater was an inspiring place to listen and take in the music. The Maestro was kind to introduce me to the band and to share about my adaptive guitar method.

After rehearsal, we met him for lunch and had a conversation about music education, and the importance of hard work. He was told as a child that he would probably only be able to play the piccolo because of his physical differences. He admitted he didn’t even know what a piccolo was at the time, and that he truly wanted to play the guitar. He taught himself to play by lying the guitar horizontally in front of himself. Now, he teaches at a local university and he had a lot of great insight about teaching philosophy. I enjoyed our talk and was glad to meet him.


Tony Memmel & His Band at the Frevo Museum, in Recife

We then went to our show at the local Frevo museum (Frevo is a form of music and dance often compared to New Orleans street Jazz, though the two music styles evolved on separate continents, completely independent of one another). All along, I’d been told how neat the museum was, and that it was going to be a special day… It really was.

The museum is state of the art, colorful, and hundreds of photos of people dancing with the characteristic clothing and bright umbrellas line the walls. We belted out our songs, and shared in a great discussion with those in attendance. The questions from the audience were thought-provoking and heartfelt. We were once again reminded of how grateful we are to be here, and to be engaging in this diplomatic, musical mission.

Until next time, Recife. Thanks for everything.


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