This time last year we had absolutely no links with the Olympics. No contacts, no shows, no nothing. Then our French percussion teacher Yann Vathelet had an idea:
“No, but wait, maybe the fact that you guys don’t have anything IS your Olympic story, maybe it’s all about the struggle of the kids and the teachers to get included in the Olympics over the next year.”
So we set ourselves a concrete goal and shared it openly with the children: we were going to try to get Favela Brass involved in the opening ceremony of the Olympics. We shared videos about our objective, got out in streets playing shows and publicising it, and pestered all of our contacts mercilessly.
The idea was that either way the kids would hopefully gain a valuable life lesson from the experience: if we didn’t get it, the kids would learn that having a dream and working hard towards it is worth it, even if it doesn’t come about exactly as you had planned – because even without the opening ceremony all that training and playing in public had to take us somewhere. On the other hand if we did make it, it would teach the children that if you really go for stuff, there’s a good chance you will make it.
As it happened, we didn’t make the opening ceremony of the Olympics. So we regrouped and came up with a plan to take the project to the streets with an program of 16 shows in 16 days for Rio 2016. We didn’t get the opening ceremony, but we weren’t going to be left out.
Then on Tuesday I received a message from my friend, Curry Clube regular and top-flight journalist Donna Bowater:
“Beeb producer just got in touch asking for contacts for the “great Favela Brass” that I have on my Instagram.” (referring, presumably to a short video that Donna posted of our recent unpaid public performance outside the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio’s city centre)
Contact was indeed made, and today the BBC filmed a clip of our children playing the same tune in various locations. It was an extremely proud day for me. The kids played absolutely out of their skins and I think it’s fair to say that the team from the beeb were suitably impressed.
Towards the end of the day I popped the question: “So, when and where exactly will this air?” – I was expecting something on the lines of “Well, we might need some standby material for BBC Alba between 4am and 5am next Monday morning…” so the actual answer took me aback:
“It’s for the end of the BBC 1 show tomorrow night for the opening of the Olympics – because of the time difference, the opening ceremony starts at midnight in the UK so not that many people will watch it. Your bit will go on just before 10pm so you’ll probably hit a much bigger audience.”
Many are the slip between cup and lip. The material still has to be edited in time and it presumably has to be approved, but there is now a good chance that the BBC’s prime time 8:30pm “Countdown to Rio” show tomorrow night will end with our kids playing a familiar Olympics-related tune to their own uniquely Brazilian beat. That for me would be even better than us participating in the opening ceremony.
Of course it may not happen. Even if it doesn’t I’m still immensely proud of the kids, and we’ll make our mark on the Olympics whatever.
…but wouldn’t it be nice?