The Finnish Connection: Thank you Maria Gasolina!

Rio de Janeiro attracts musicians from all over the world, one of whom is Finnish drummer and percussionist Sami Kontola. Sami and I became friends whilst playing together in the house band at the Maze jazz club in the Tavares Bastos favela. Sami’s friends in Finnish band Maria Gasolina recently toured Brazil and while they were here raised R$1,000 through the sale of CDs. Instead of keeping the money the band decided that they would like to use it to give something back to Brazil. When they mentioned this to Sami, he told them about Favela Brass, and the band then very kindly decided to donate the money us, to be used to design and print a set of uniforms for us to use in our performances (not least in Rio Carnaval 2015 at the end of February).

The band recorded a Christmas video message for the children at the project including a rendition of Tim Maia’s classic “Que Beleza”, which we showed to them at a recent rehearsal. Sami and Finnish film-maker friend Suvi Mononen
captured the response of the children in a short video, which includes a thank you message from older students Vinícius, Gabriella, Victor and Lorena followed by a quick impromptu performance of the same tune on brass instruments. The video has Finnish subtitles, but it’s easy to get the gist:

Thank you ever so much to Maria Gasolina for the very generous donation and for the lovely Christmas video message. Thanks also to Sami for the hook-up and to Suvi for filming the video. All that remains now is to design and print some seriously funky Favela Brass T-shirts for the kids to wear at their upcoming shows – watch this space!

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Bindu Mathur

Bindu Mathur was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada and worked for 10 years in London as a TV producer/director, making science and history documentaries for the BBC, Discovery and Channel 4. She also made videos for international NGOs and has filmed in Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and South America. Resident in Rio de Janeiro since 2007 she is the owner of the award-winning Casa Beleza B&B in Santa Teresa, where she lives with her husband and two children. She is a long-time collaborator with Favela Brass including making films for the project. Her children also studied at the project.

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