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Sounds from the south

Profile image for By Lucinda Breeding
By Lucinda Breeding
Trio Assum is a Brazilian jazz ensemble participating in Festival Brasileiro this weekend.
Trio Assum is a Brazilian jazz ensemble participating in Festival Brasileiro this weekend.

Jazz and other styles from Brazil celebrated at UNT

When it comes to cultural exchanges at the University of North Texas College of Music, contributions from the Czech Republic have gotten a lot of love over the years.

This fall, a new oboe professor in the college is putting our artistic neighbors to the south in the spotlight.

Festival Brasileiro celebrates the familiar sounds of Brazil — namely the country’s considerable jazz accomplishments — as well as some of the sounds that are lesser known, especially in the orchestral realm.

The festival started Tuesday and continues through Saturday with several big concerts.

Oboe professor James Ryon took a liking to Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos when he was a student himself. His love of Villa-Lobos’ music grew into a decades-long interest in Brazil’s broad musical ventures.

Ryon was researching the country’s music on Brazilian soil when he met Joao Guilherme Ripper. At the time, Ripper was a rising star in the country’s classical music composition scene, and is now an international presence.

Ryon wasn’t alone in his love for Brazilian music at UNT. Clarinet professor Kimberly Cole Luevano was performing in Brazil a few years ago, and met clarinetists from Goiania and Brasilia while she was there.

Ryon and Luevano both joined the UNT faculty two years ago, and both learned of the other’s affinity for the country’s musical heft. They tapped bassoon professor Kathleen Reynolds to join them to start Trio Vientos Tejanos.

The three teachers and artists didn’t let the dust settle from their project: They got to work planning an exchange with Brazilian musicians. Trio Vientos Tejanos will travel to Brazil in December to continue the exchange.

“The festival and other exchanges give students, faculty and the general public the opportunity to discover more about the two largest nations in the Western Hemisphere and their distinctive cultures,” Ryon said.

The festival ramps up this week with performances of Brazil’s classical music. Locals can sample Ryon’s longtime favorite, Villa-Lobos, during the festival concerts, and Ripper arrived on campus to lecture and conduct ensembles as a guest. University of Brasilia wind faculty members are in town, too. The Brazilian teachers and artists make up the wind quintet, Quinteto UnB and visiting jazz ensemble Trio Assum.

Ryon and other UNT faculty members are also taking advantage of the college’s relationship with Denton’s bustling downtown jazz joint, Sweetwater Grill & Tavern. Brasuka, a Dallas-based Brazilian jazz ensemble that includes UNT faculty in its lineup, will share the patio stage with Trio Assum on Saturday night.

LUCINDA BREEDING can be reached at 940-566-6877.


The University of North Texas College of Music’s Festival Brasileiro continues through Saturday. For more information, visit


7:30 p.m. — UNT Symphonic Band performs Joao Guilherme Ripper’s Chamber Symphony for Winds and Jose Urcisino da Silva’s Suite Pernambucana de Bolso in Winspear Hall at the Murchison Performing Arts Center, on the north side of I-35E at North Texas Boulevard. Conducted by Dennis Fisher. Tickets are $10 for the public; $8 for non-UNT students, seniors and UNT faculty and staff; free for UNT students with ID. For tickets, visit or call 940-369-7802. Live streamed at


8 p.m. — “An Evening of Brazilian Chamber Music” featuring Trio Vientos Tejanos and Quinteto UnB with flute professor Terri Sundberg and guest artist Dennis Parker on cello, performing the works of Jose Vieira Brandao, Walter Burles Marx, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Joao Guilherme Ripper, Sergio Nogueira and Liduino Pitombeira. In Voertman Hall at the Music Building, at Avenue C and Chestnut Street. Free.


8 p.m. — “An Evening of Brazilian Chamber Music” with the UNT String Orchestra, featuring cello professor Eugene Osadchy and the UNT Cello Choir with student soprano Jennifer Youngs; Trio Assum; chamber orchestra of UNT faculty, guests and students; and Quinteto UnB. Works include Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 by Villa-Lobos, and From My Window No. 2 and Concerto a Cinco by Joao Guilherme Ripper. In Voertman Hall at the Music Building, at Avenue C and Chestnut Street. Free.

9:30 p.m. — Brazilian jazz at Sweetwater Bar & Grill, 115 S. Elm St., featuring Brasuka and Trio Assum. Free.