About the Festival

Minas – Heart of Brazil is an annual multi-media event bringing to the UK the arts of Minas Gerais and promoting collaboration and exchange between Brazilian and London based artists, communities and audiences. Minas – Heart of Brazil focuses both on the region’s rural, artisanal traditions in music, pageantry, popular Baroque art, cuisine and handicrafts, and on the contemporary cultures of its urban communities, including music, theatre, literature and cinema. 

Toninho Horta about the project

Activities of the event

  • Participation of the new generation of musicians and traditional musicians
  • Workshops with participating musicians (chat, exchange of experience)
  • Documentaries and lectures about music
  • Lectures and readings of poetry and prose fiction
  • Minas movies
  • Theatre, comedies plays
  • Minas craft
  • Minas food and drink
  • Visual arts
  • Material and immaterial heritage – folk traditions

Why Minas Gerais?

Most cultural and educational events presenting Brazil to UK audiences have tended to focus on a limited repertoire of images and locales, typically those of Rio de Janeiro, the northeastern state of Bahia and its capital, Salvador, or the Amazon. Although a less familiar international tourist destination, the southeastern state of Minas Gerais arguably boasts the richest and most diverse of the country’s cultural traditions and history. The economic heartland of colonial Brazil during its gold mining boom in the eighteenth century, Minas was home to a startling concentration of Baroque culture in architecture, sculpture, painting and music, and the first literary and intellectual movement to sow the seeds of Brazilian nationalism. African slave labour in the colonial mines left an important legacy of Afro-Brazilian festivals and traditions such as the congados, as well as numerous maroon communities or quilombos in the interior of the state.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries a combination of agriculture (“coffee and milk”) and modern, industrialised mining activities secured the central role of Minas Gerais in the economic and political life of the country. That strong partnership between the rural and the urban has continued to characterise the region’s cultural identity. On the one hand, the towns and villages of the interior keep alive the traditions of the June feasts and folias de reis, sculptures in wood, ceramic and soapstone, a cuisine centred on pork-based stews, milk puddings and pão-de-queijo, and the mythical world of the sertão became the scenario for Brazil’s most revolutionary of novelists, João Guimarães Rosa. The country’s first planned city, the state capital of Belo Horizonte, has been a centre of intellectual life (e.g. for Modernist poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade in the 1920s and 30s), and in the 1970s it produced the musical project Clube da Esquina led by Milton Nascimento and the Borges family, and later experimental initiatives in the music of Uakti, the dance of Grupo Corpo and the theatre of Grupo Galpão.

 


 

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