"I didn't study any instrument, but I think it's enough to like music to support artists and visit their spaces", stated Sabine in the 9th edition of CULTURA!Brasileiros. Photo: Diego Rousseaux

In 1989, the German Sabine Lovatelli was awarded the Order of Rio Branco, the highest honor granted by the Brazilian government. Sabine's passion for our country was the result of another long-lasting love story, born of her meeting, in Europe, with businessman Carlo Lovatelli, her partner for 45 years. The couple met in Sabine's homeland in 1971, the same year the beautiful, blue-eyed young woman - born in Iena and raised in Hannover, with stays in Paris and London - decided to accept Carlo's invitation to come live in Brazil and make it their second homeland.

Ten years later, Sabine started the sociocultural project that earned her the prestigious award, an adventure that started with another unconditional love of her life, classical music. Alongside her friend Claude Sanguszko, Sabine founded, in 1981, the Mozarteum Brasileiro, an institution in São Paulo that has already brought to the country more than 50 of the best orchestras in the world, performed more than a thousand concerts and contributed to the formation and visibility of local musicians, through scholarships and international exchanges. In addition, by organizing free events, such as the ones she did for 15 years in the open space of the São Paulo Museum of Art (Masp) and still does in Ibirapuera Park, she also struggles to demystify the idea that classical music is an artistic expression. destined for the socioeconomic elite.

In 2012, Sabine expanded Mozarteum's activities to the south coast of Bahia, with the creation of the Music Festival in Trancoso. Since then, she has brought countless great classical and popular music talents to the idyllic district of Porto Seguro. In this way, it also contributes to tripling the movement of people in the village of eight thousand inhabitants, with the presence of 20 to 25 thousand tourists who attend the event and move the local economy.

In the following conversation, loaded with a delicious German accent and held in her apartment in the Jardins neighborhood, in São Paulo, Sabine reflects on the importance of music for the formation of the human being, talks about the joys and adversities that were in her path in the last 35 years and also regrets the loss of singer Al Jarreau, who would be one of the highlights of the sixth edition of the Music Festival in Trancoso.

The event will begin on the 18th of this month, with an evening concert that will bring together the Mozarteum Brasileiro Academic Orchestra, a symphony newly created by the institution, and the Yurlov Academic Choir from Russia.

CULTURE!Brazilians – How was the creation of the Brazilian Mozarteum?
Sabine Lovatelli – As I always liked classical music and attended many musical events in Europe, I thought that in Brazil there was little space for this music. I didn't study any instrument, but I think it's enough to like music to support artists and visit their spaces, and so I thought: “I think I can help and create something that will also make me feel more part of Brazil”. As classical music came mainly from German-speaking countries, I had easy access to people. We started the Mozarteum in 1981, opening with the Cleveland Orchestra and American conductor Lorin Maazel.

Did Brazilian musicians also participate in these first concerts?
We brought in more musicians from abroad, but in the first year we started to make the Concerts of the Midday, a series of presentations in the free space of the Masp, which lasted 15 years. Thus, we created a special series for Brazilian musicians, in which the public in São Paulo could listen to good music, for free, at Masp. When I made the Mozarteum, my idea was also to create something for the city, taking into account that it had to be done even more for the youth. Music teaching in Brazil is not intensive. We don't have many schools, teachers. For the musician here to become a professional is only a sacrifice. In Brazil, classical music has always been treated as an elitist art, which demonstrates people's lack of culture. The things that no one knows are always just for others, aren't they? But classical music is not just for the elite. It is a base of information, a base of studies. Then the musician does jazz, does bossa nova, does whatever he wants.

Why did the Noon Concerts come to an end?
Because a major renovation began at the museum at the same time that the French and Brazilian Bank closed. They have been our main sponsor all these years. So, we lost, at once, the space and the supporter. But I think the project was very good. It opened many paths for young musicians and also for the public of São Paulo.

In 1985, the Mozarteum began to promote concerts in the Park Ibirapuera, offering, since then, over 50 free performances by some of the best orchestras in the world. How did the idea come about?
We did the first concert with Bernard Haitink and the Concertgebouw Orchestra (Dutch conductor and orchestra). It was the first time we did an outdoor event. Then we had a concert with Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic, for an audience of thousands of people, a sea of ​​people. The stage was in Praça da Paz and the audience crossed the lake, went to the bottom of Ibirapuera. This concert was recorded and New York usually shows this video as an example of how an outdoor concert has to be done. Every time he comes to São Paulo, Zubin (currently, the Indian conductor directs the Israel Symphony Orchestra) wants to play at Ibirapuera again. São Paulo has grown a lot culturally. At the beginning, everything was always like a happening.

This informality facilitated theSolidarity of the Mozarteum?
Yes. Everything was lighter, done on the basis of trust and friendship. I was also lucky enough to be invited to participate in the meetings of the European Conferences for Symphonies Orchestras. The conferences brought together the top ten in Europe, orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic and Munich Philharmonic. In meetings with managers, we talked about programs, musicians' salaries, good tours. I was the outsider they could avoid, but these managers helped me a lot for years. Today organizations and bureaucracy are much larger. Back there, there was a certain dynamic in the way of acting and deciding.

During these 35 years of the Mozarteum, how was it possible to circumvent the country's political and economic instabilities?
Our programs are always made three years before they happen and it's impossible to know what's ahead. Then, when the crisis hits, we have to turn around and run after money. I think I've always managed to make the Mozarteum have a good name because we honor our commitments. If I tell the musicians of an orchestra that in three years they will come to Brazil, they are sure they will. Our greatest asset is that people believe in us.

And how was the Música em Trancoso festival conceived?
We gathered a group of friends who wanted to do something for the place. I called musicians from the Berlin Philharmonic, the Labèque Sisters (duo of French pianists, formed by Katia and Marielle Labèque), several soloists, and said: “We are going to do a new event in Trancoso, it may be a total failure, but the place is very beautiful and I guarantee that it will be worth participating in the test”. In the first years we brought in great artists and, from the beginning, I also thought about helping young people and putting them next to these international musicians, to create connections. The musicians have masterclasses every day, with free access to renowned people, who know how to teach instrumental technique, but who also give life tips, on how to face certain moments. Last year, we announced the formation of a youth orchestra on the Internet, and soon there were more than 400 subscribers. The Mozarteum Brasileiro Academic Orchestra will be formed by 85 young people, all scholarship holders.

Contrary to these initiatives, we now see, for example, the end of the São Paulo State Symphony Band. Doesn't a decision like this leave the impression that, for the public power, classical music is something superfluous?
Our politicians don't understand classical music. As I said, this demonstrates the lack of culture of those who treat art as leisure. People who don't understand the difference between what a human being is and what he could be. Unfortunately, this is what we feel daily, from Brasília to the states and municipalities. Culture is the basis of human development. Without culture, humanity cannot walk.

To consider classical music something elitist is not also to belittle human capacity? After all, music deals with something universal, sensitivity…
The fact that we do not have sports, music and art in general in public schools in Brazil is a scandal. Where will these children learn to empathize, to find things beautiful? If you catch one of those criminals who are on the street today, it's obvious that the poor guy had a difficult life, that he didn't have access to anything. Entering the history of these people you will feel sorry, because you will realize that they lost their lives. And these issues have to be addressed to the government, which is largely responsible for this.

What other actions are carried out in Trancoso, in addition to the festival?
In July we have a week of lyrical singing (the Academia Canto project in Trancoso), when we chose 50 students from hundreds of applicants from all over Brazil. They win a scholarship to spend eight days in Trancoso alongside international professors. In the end, we do an open concert and usually give out five or six scholarships in Europe. These students say they really took a big step in their careers. Of those who go to Europe, some get a job and stay there. to Josy (the mezzo-soprano Josy Santos), for example, is studying at the Stuttgart Opera. This is our intention, to help internationalize the musicians here. In November of this year, we will have the Symphony Orchestra of Bucharest and then we will have a Christmas party for the children of Trancoso, with a choir and local musicians. In addition, whenever possible we rent the theater. Ivete Sangalo, for example, recorded a fantastic DVD there. This helps resolve space maintenance issues.

In last year’s edition, I interviewed Cesar Camargo Mariano and he spoke, with great joy, about the exchange relationship and the fascination that Brazilian music awakens in foreigners…
The partnership with Cesar was born when I created the first year program. As I still didn't know what the public would like, to try it out, we did a different night than the other. We started mixing chamber music with bossa nova, with jazz. There was one day left to close the schedule and I thought: “Why not make a jam session between classical and popular musicians and see what happens?”. Of the classics, many said: “We can't do that, because we don't improvise, we do everything as written”. Cesar, who is a great musician, said, “Take it easy. I'll separate a few bars and, when they feel comfortable, they'll come out with the solos”. They were delighted with the idea and a clarinetist released the first solo. Everyone had fun and loosened up when he broke the ice, and a great friendship was born between them.

What was it like dealing with the loss of Al Jarreau, who would be one of the highlights of this year's festival?
It was very tough. A week before he died I already knew he was in the hospital, but I didn't imagine that this could happen. The worldwide repercussion proves that Al left an important legacy for music. He transformed the way the voice can be heard in jazz. Days before leaving, he gave a very good interview and talked about his interest in bossa nova. When musicians like him say that, I realize how much we need to reaffirm the importance of Brazilian music. As soon as we found out he was sick and couldn't come, we had to rethink everything, because we did a good part of the program because of his presence. I found an excellent group, the Vocal Six, made up of six Swedish singers who will do half of the programming a cappella, their forte, and the second half with orchestra. I think the audience will love it. It has things from Michael Jackson, Abba, Queen and songs consecrated by Al Jarreau.

How is research developed to define the programs for the Mozarteum and the Música em Trancoso festival?
I go to a lot of music events. Now, for example, I'm going to the Salzburg Festival, and I'm also going to see the Hamburg Philharmonic. With that, I meet people who also like classical music. I hear a lot of suggestions, because there's a lot going on in Europe and the United States and we can't keep track of everything. I follow a lot of advice.

And how are popular music attractions defined?
My great conductor is Cesar. Since he won't be coming this year, I did the programming. We will have the Gershwin Piano Quartet and the Oscar Peterson quartet, who was a great friend of mine, with Gary Clayton, who replaces him on the piano, and the musicians who played with Oscar. Their presentation will be beautiful. Oscar composed songs that he played little, but that had special meaning for him, and that were recently recovered by the quartet on a CD.

What balance can be made of the 35 years of the Mozarteum and, so far, of the five editions of the festival?
Mozarteum is recognized inside and outside the country, and I think we opened doors and new paths for musicians. With this, we help to raise the level of classical music here and we are managing to make more people interested in it and take care of this intelligent thing, which opens horizons and, as we said before, helps to build a better life. What saddens me is to see that the efforts of Brazilian musicians are little honored by our politicians. This frustration always makes me think: where can we help?

How do you feel facing this and other challenges?
When we did the first edition of Música em Trancoso, I asked people what they liked and what I heard most was: “Everything”. That's why we kept this schedule so mixed. Trancoso is a small place, with eight thousand inhabitants and that number triples during the week of the festival. François, our architect (the Luxembourgian François Valentiny, author of the L'Occitane Theater project, the main stage of the festival, which also takes place in public spaces), goes to the festival and says that when he walks on the beach, everyone greets him. This makes me happy, because I realize that people are co-responsible for the event. Once we left a restaurant, we had to cross the Quadrado (central point of trancoso), and there were three cellists rehearsing at midnight. We watched that beautiful music under a sky of stars and, shortly after, a violinist, a bossa nova musician and several others arrived. When the batuque, samba gang from Trancoso arrived, they made a kind of happening, a spontaneous music that doesn't happen anywhere else. This is fantastic!

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