• Choro Camp New England slated for June 26 - July 2 in Northampton, Mass.

    Choro Camp New England

    NORTHAMPTON, MASS. — Organizers of Choro Camp New England have announced this year's dates, June 26 - July 2 on the campus of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. The event offers North Americans an opportunity to learn and play choro as it is played in Brazil with the support of teachers who are literally at home in the tradition.

    Choro Camp is designed to meet the needs of both newcomers and those who've already taken a deep dive into the genre. The event offers instructional tracks for 6 instrumental groups, shown below with this year's lead instructor. More teachers are waiting in the wings, as registration warrants:


    • Wind and fretless stringed instruments - Daniela Spielmann
    • Mandolin/bandolim - Almir Côrtes
    • Cavaquinho - Pedro Cantalice
    • 6 & 7-string guitar - Iuri Bittar
    • Pandeiro / percussion - Clarice Magalhães
    • Accordion / keyboards - Vitor Gonçalves

    This year's primary mandolin/bandolim instructor is Almir Côrtez, a native of Bahia, Brazil and currently a professor at the University of Rio de Janeiro's Villa-Lobos Institute. Almir holds a B.A. in classical guitar and Master's and Ph.D. degrees in popular music performance from the University of Campinas-São Paulo. He has served as visiting artist/scholar at Indiana University, San Francisco State University, and at the Latin Music and Culture Celebration organized by Berklee College of Music. He was also on the faculty of the 2012 Mandolin Symposium, where he worked closely with one of North America's most prominent choro ambassadors.

    In classes, participants will give particular attention to 10 tunes that make up the camp's Core Repertoire, covering rhythmic styles typical of the genre like polca, maxixe, choro, samba, and baião. Reference recordings, sheet music and play-along videos are provided well before camp through the event's website and YouTube channel.

    CCNE's "Choro Shop" offers an unparalleled opportunity for North Americans to familiarize themselves with luthier-made Brazilian instruments typically used to play choro: bandolins, cavaquinhos, 7-string guitars and pandeiros. While the Choro Shop is open year round online, at Choro Camp you can try out instruments in person to your heart's and hands' content. The Choro Shop also carries a wide selection of choro-related books, many of which are either hard to find or unavailable in the US.

    CCNE is produced by Andrew Lawrence, who also produces the Gypsy jazz music camp, Django in June. The two events both take place on the campus of Smith College in western MA, where housing, food, classes and jams all happen in one sweet spot. Dorm rooms are private, and the on-campus meals not only keep staff and campers well fed, but well connected.

    Outside of structured activities at Choro Camp, the rodas — small and large, fast and slow — never stop. Especially for those who have not yet found or created a local choro community where they live, the event is a rare, invigorating and instructive experience, one that proves that North Americans can — and do — play choro!

    Smith College