Trancoso, a tranquil and beautiful beach town along Brazil's east coast, has attracted adventurous travellers and celebrities looking for privacy. Now a German countess hopes it can draw music lovers as well.
Some would call it one of Brazil's best-kept secrets - but lately word has been getting out. The coastal town of Trancoso offers pristine beaches, chic but understated resorts, historic flair and, now, its very own music festival. The first edition of the festival Music in Trancoso runs from March 17 to 24.
Music in Trancoso is set to offer a wide-ranging program, from Brazilian sounds to classical mainstream and even popular 20th century classics by the likes of George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein. The list of performers is equally diverse, including Brazilian ensembles and a youth orchestra as well as members of top German and European orchestras like the Berlin Philharmonic.
Those who have managed the trip to Trancoso's remote location may wonder about the event's timing - in Brazil's early autumn, well after the wave of summer tourism. But the date has a purpose, said festival organizer and local resident Sabine Lovatelli.
"The hotels and pensions just send their workers away without a job because it's all very seasonal here. So we wanted to give them a little more stability and an alternative way to continue to earn money during the year," Lovatelli explained.
Leaving Europe behind
Sabine Lovatelli has received numerous honors for her work
The German-born countess has combined music with activism ever since she moved to Brazil at 22 years old in 1970, at a point when she knew next to nothing of the country or its language.
Lovatelli had just married her husband, Carlo, when the two decided to move to South America.
"I was very young, and for me it was a big adventure, but when I look back now, really there were a lot of things missing in Brazil," said Lovatelli, who studied foreign languages in Paris and London before leaving Europe behind.
The move brought excitement but also loneliness, and Lovatelli turned to music as a way to integrate into her new home country.
"I always wanted to do something which would let me participate more in this country where I was going to live all my life. I analyzed what was missing, and definitely there was classical music missing here," she explained.
Freedom and ambition in Brazil
Lovatelli's realization has led her to engage with music in Brazil for over 30 years, though the classical enthusiast does not play any instruments herself. Along the way she founded the Mozarteum Brasileiro, which arranges concerts and supports Brazilian musicians.
Helping young musicians and youth orchestras has been a particular focus of Lovatelli's work in Brazil, to whom she has offered sponsorship, mentorship and international contacts. In 2010, Lovatelli played an instrumental role in bringing youth orchestra Sinfonica Heliopolis to Germany for its first European tour. The group's members are selected largely from slums in Brazil before being granted a first-class musical education.
The trip back to Europe brought the differences between young Germans and Brazilians into relief for the countess.
"Among the youth, there's more ambition in Brazil, and there's more freedom," Lovatelli said.
"Sometimes I hear - and it really makes me sad - young Germans thinking just of a profession where they can secure their retirement. That's bad because I think youth should be free to choose and to develop themselves in a way that they think goes best with their character," she added.
Supporting Brazil's next generation of musicians features prominently on the agenda at Music in Trancoso as well. A highlight of the festival will be performances by the Youth Orchestra of Bahia. And just in case hearing one of the country's most well-known young ensembles isn't enough, guests can also look forward to hanging out along one of Brazil's loveliest and most serene coasts.