Poster Simone Menezes
Conductor Simone Menezes has released a new album honoring the Amazon rainforest.
New Classical Tracks®

Simone Menezes honors the Amazon rainforest on her new collaborative album

New Classical Tracks (extended interview) - Simone Menezes

Simone Menezes, Camila Provenzale and Philharmonic Zurich – Amazônia: Villa-Lobos - Glass (Alpha Classics)

New Classical Tracks - Simone Menezes (radio edit)
New Classical Tracks - October 11, 2023

“I think it's very funny that people think I am creative,” conductor Simone Menezes says. “I just I feel like the ideas are in the air and I just take them.”

Menezes is a Brazilian conductor who is known for her creative approach. With her new recording, Amazônia, she says it was just “so obvious” that this project should focus on the Amazonian rainforest. Her goal was to make an important point with no speech, just music. In other words, it’s art that goes straight to the heart.

The centerpiece of the recording is a suite by Heitor Villa-Lobos, Floresta do Amazonas. It’s a work that Menezes believes should be part of the standard repertoire.

“My opinion is that this music has some very strong points,” she says. “The first one: It's an epic. It sounds somehow like Carmina Burana. It has this large aspect and sounds like monumental music. The second, because of Villa-Lobos’ lyricism, is very touching. Sometimes we think about Latin American music as happy music. But in this case, it's deep music and the melodies come from the influence of fado, which is a deep Portuguese song.”

Why did you want to bring the rainforest to the forefront through this music?

For me, the Amazonia is one of the biggest treasures of humanity. We should consider that we are in a beautiful garden that is this Earth, and we have our job as guardians of this garden. This project aims to make people see how touching and beautiful this place is.

“And it's very funny that Villa-Lobos, when he wrote many pieces at the end of his life, he wrote, ‘Maybe my music is our letters from the posterity.’ And I think this is the case with this piece now.”

As you are leading this piece of music with the orchestra, is there a part of it that you really enjoy?

“The most touching is the ending of the speech. It's called the ‘Epilogue,’ or the very last movement, because it sums up everything. And the melody is sung by soprano Camila Provenzale, but she did not sing with lyrics. It's just a kind of vocalese with the orchestra. I have conducted this piece maybe 11 or 12 times recently, and this was the first time that I saw musicians crying during the concert.”

To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.


Simone Menezes, Camila Provenzale and Philharmonic Zurich – Amazônia: Villa-Lobos - Glass (Amazon)

Simone Menezes, Camila Provenzale and Philharmonic Zurich – Amazônia: Villa-Lobos - Glass (Alpha Classics)

Simone Menezes (official site)

Camila Provenzale (official site)

Philharmonic Zurich (official site)

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