$1 Tickets at Carnegie Hall Tonight for Brazilian Orchestra

Classic Arts News   $1 Tickets at Carnegie Hall Tonight for Brazilian Orchestra
Ever since being sidelined with a run of unfortunate injuries beginning in the mid-1960s, Brazilian pianist Joê£o Carlos Martins has turned to conducting. Tonight at Carnegie he will lead his Bachiana Chamber Orchestra in a concert aiming to focus attention on the problems facing the Amazon rain forest. Tickets are priced at just $1.

The program will include Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 1, the Prelude from Villa-Lobos's Bachiana Brasileira No. 4, and the world premiere of a specially commissioned piano concerto by Belgian composer-pianist Stefan Meylaers, appropriately called Amazonas.

For those who hope to take advantage of this extraordinary bargain, some bad news: the concert is sold out.

The 27-member Bachiana Chamber Orchestra was founded by Martins three years ago; it has since toured Brazil and recorded all of Bach's Orchestral Suites. According to a statement, it is the only Brazilian orchestra to have survived without government funding. The Carnegie concert marks the ensemble's first American appearance.

Martins also founded the Bachiana Youth Orchestra, made up of students largely from the poor neighborhoods of Sê£o Paulo. His orchestras cooperate with the Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA) organization, a major environmental group dedicated to protecting the Amazon rainforests.

After making his Carnegie Hall debut as a pianist in 1961, Martins performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony and other major orchestras. After his early successes, however, he suffered some shockingly bad luck. In 1966, an accident while playing soccer in New York's Central Park ruptured his ulnar nerve, leading to problems with his right hand. Martins eventually played a successful comeback concert at Carnegie in 1978, but shortly afterwards developed repetitive movement syndrome. He gave up the piano for many years and worked as a stockbroker in Sê£o Paulo before returning to music.

But his bad luck continued: in 1995 he was mugged in Bulgaria and suffered a brain concussion. He spent eight months recovering in a hospital in Florida, but the attack cost him the use of his right hand. In 1999 Martins turned to the left-hand repertoire, but in 2002 a tumor was found on his left hand. In 2004, he began conducting in Brazil and Europe.

He conducts from memory, as he cannot turn pages.

Martins told Bloomberg News, "My life was a dream from 13 to 27. After my first accident playing soccer, it was a nightmare from 27 to 61. Now it's a dream again, since I took my first conducting lesson. My father lived until 102 years old. I think I could get to 101 at least. So I think I have about 35 years left for music."

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