In 1808, the Portuguese emperor João VI and his entire court fled Lisbon for Brazil to escape the invading armies of Napoleon. With the court came a high regard for intellectual and cultural endeavors, including a great interest in music. In Brazil the emperor found a native musician of exceptional talent, Father José Maurício Nunes Garcia. Son of a Portuguese father and an African mother, José Maurício was soon named Kapelmeister to the court. In 1810, Nunes Garcia performed for the imperial court a spectacular new composition titled Missa de Nossa Senhora da Conceição, Mass for Our Lady of the Conception. This is a massive work, scored for mixed choir, full orchestra, and six soloists, and is widely regarded as Nunes Garcia's masterpiece. The Missa also shows a side of Latin America that is urbane, cosmopolitan, and based in highly developed urban cultures. Despite its significance, the Missa was last performed in its entirety in 1810. For nearly two centuries the original score lay buried in an archive in Rio de Janeiro. Some ten years ago an enterprising young Brazilian musicologist, Ricardo Bernades, reconstructed the Missa from original documents and published a critical edition of the work sponsored by FUNARTE, the Brazilian equivalent of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Given the importance of the work and of the historical moment it represents, the UT Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies and the UT School of Music are pleased to announce a public symposium and concert titled Music and Culture in the Imperial Court of João VI in Rio de Janeiro. This conference will bring together a distinguished group of musicologists, historians, journalists, and writers to discuss this extraordinary moment in Latin American history. The symposium will kick off at 9:15 A.M. on Monday, March 7, 2005, with a lecture by Prof. Gérard Béhague, a world-famous musicologist and a distinguished member of the UT faculty. The keynote address will be given by a leading scholar of Brazilian history and culture, Kenneth Maxwell of Harvard University, on Tuesday, March 8, beginning at 3:45 P.M. The symposium will end that evening with a performance of the Missa in the Bates Recital Hall by the UT Chamber Singers with soloists and orchestra, directed by Prof. James Morrow. This will be the first time the Missa has ever been performed outside of Brazil and the first time for it to be performed in its entirety since 1810. This concert not only crowns the symposium, but also forms part of the ArtesAméricas series, organized by the UT Performing Arts Center, which seeks to give Latin American performance arts greater visibility in the United States.