Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Brazilian Cultural Diplomacy in Yerevan

Football is perhaps the first thing that comes to mind in terms of Brazil and public diplomacy these days, but in Yerevan, the Brazilian Embassy had a different treat for the public: an evening of live music.

According to the Brazilian Ambassador Edson Marinho Duarte Monteiro, the event on June 27 was part of a global series of Brazilian music concerts organized by the embassies around the world. The "Journey Through Brazilian Music" provided a quick historical overview of the 20th century, from early samba to bossa nova and carnival tunes.

Along with the program, the Embassy was giving out informational brochures about Brazil. Never lose an opportunity!

The performers were all Armenian, including the singer -- Anoush Badalyan -- who did a wonderful job covering the pieces in what seemed to be great Portuguese. Their performance was accompanied by a brief introduction and background explaining how each genre developed and noting some of the most famous musicians/performers associated with them.

The highlights of the evening were, perhaps, the ambassadorial performances. The wife of the Ukrainian Ambassador -- apparently a jazz musician, herself -- joined Anoush on the stage with the Russian take of the famous "Girl From Ipanema". (At a time like this, with many Armenians siding with the pro-Russian interpretation of the Ukraine crisis, this gesture was received very warmly by the audience.)

The other highlight was the performance by Brazil's Ambassador himself, who joined the rest of his staff on the stage to deliver the last song of the evening.

The event was certainly a major success in terms of cultural diplomacy. It was engaging and educational, the music and the presentation were simply amazing, everything was bright and colorful, and most importantly -- it was free and open to the public. Furthermore, the warm, open and personable tone of the Ambassadorial corps - as a contrast to the distant and overly formal atmosphere of the local "official class" - was unusual for and very much welcome by the public.

Well done!

Even the flowers were Brazilian-themed that day :)

* Please pardon the quality of the videos -- they were taken on my phone. Still, I think they provide a better idea of the event than any photo would.

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