My artistic practice focuses on flute traditions within the Americas, including Brazil, Cuba, and the United States. My performance dissertation repertoire consists of flute-led classical and popular dance-genre compositions from Brazilian, Cuban, and African American composers. With the shared roots of African syncopated rhythms and European dance forms, these composers contribute distinct cultural backgrounds and musical languages to the African diaspora and the world. Despite the cruel atrocities of the Middle Passage that forced enslaved Africans to the New World for exploitation and economic gain, religious, racial, and musical syncretism led to the emergence of new distinct cultures in our global society. The African soul persevered through the euro-social pressures of chattel slavery, racial violence, religious conversion, and cultural appropriation in the Americas. Religious and musical traditions, both inexorably linked, constitute the most prominent elements of Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brazilian, and African American cultures. In the hands of Afro-Cubans and Afro-Brazilians, musical elements with religious roots transformed Western European classical dance forms into multiple genres, specifically the Brazilian chôro and modern Cuban danzón. The Brazilian chôro, born in mid-nineteenth-century Rio de Janeiro, is an instrumental genre of popular music that utilizes the Afro-Brazilian lundú rhythm, the European polka, and other influences. The improvisatory nature of chôro mirrors that of North American jazz, and virtuosity is a hallmark of the style. Like the initial negative perceptions of jazz in the United States, white Brazilian high society initially labeled the Brazilian chôro with a poor connotation as white elites did not want to be associated with chôro’s African elements. The Cuban charanga is a flute-led ensemble dating back to the late-nineteenth century. The charanga traditionally performs Latin dance music such as the danzón, the chachachá, the son montuno, the guajira, and more. Originally derived from the Spanish word for street band, the term “charanga” endured a pejorative connotation and referred to poor, mostly Black, Cubans. Typical of nineteenth-century Afro-Latin America, many Afro-Cubans worked as musicians to “improve their lot” while their white counterparts deemed the profession as improper. Ironically, Black cultural expression now forms the basis of popular and mass culture in the Americas. From slavery in the Americas to the present, enslaved Africans and their descendants endured themes of anti-Black racism, invisibility, and cultural co-optation. Despite these injustices, enslaved Africans have exercised themes of resistance, resilience, and hope through musical invention. To highlight African cultural resilience and influence in music, my performance dissertation recitals explore the similarities and differences between Brazilian chôro, Cuban charanga, and United States musical idioms (e.g., jazz) through a Western European classical music lens.



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