Minerva Philharmonic: inclusion through music in Morro do Chapéu

Published on Tuesday, 29 January 2019

It is nearly impossible to listen to the famous Chico Buarque song and not imagine a small town, with its central church, gardens in bloom and people opening their windows to watch the band go by. We don’t know for sure what inspired the composition, but it could well have been the Minerva Philharmonic Society, a centenary institution from Morro do Chapéu which, on special days, roams the streets, promoting inclusion through music and “singing songs of love” in the Bahia countryside. 

Minerva is a fundamental part of local people’s cultural identity formation and influences several generations of citizens and musicians. Currently 85 children and teenagers participate in music lessons at the institution’s headquarters, which also hosts amateur theatre and dance groups.  

Today, the Philharmonic is under the stewardship of Maria do Carmo, who has been elated with what’s been going on in Morro do Chapéu. “I have to mention my happiness in seeing how we have been able to reactivate the Minerva Philharmonic.” According to the President, a large chunk of those 112 years was marked by difficult periods, with no inventive or financial support.  

But good winds made the paths of Enel and Minerva Philharmonic cross! Through Symphony of Tomorrow, a project supported by the Ceará Law of Incentive to Culture that creates links through musical education and dialogues with several institutions in Brazil, the distributor met Minerva and it was impossible not to be enchanted. 

“The Institution has a very close relationship with the community. It is our only cultural and social heritage, which for over 100 years has been musicalising, socialising, forming citizens, our youngsters, our children, and today plays a very important role in the socio-cultural context, especially after the partnership with Enel”

– Antônio Dantas, Minerva Philharmonic Coordinator and Honorary President

Conductor and Teacher Alberto dos Santos saw the changes happening up close. According to him, the Philharmonic had no teachers and only 15 musicians. Now, there are more than 80 students, brand-new instruments and uniforms, in addition to a resident psychologist, who offers support and follows the evolution of the young people. 

One of the best bits is to know that events are once again part of the institution’s routine! Since we have partnered, two Philharmonic Meetings have taken place in Morro do Chapéu. 

Minerva has affected so many lives and stories that a book could be written about it. Among them we find Dilton Fernandes, a youngster born and raised in the town who began teaching keyboard at the institution’s headquarters and today gives lessons to the low-income population. And it’s not close at all! He travels three hours to Duas Barras once a week and charges a symbolic fee to give lessons and, like the Philharmonic, transform the lives of the local residents.

“It (Minerva Philharmonic) gave me the big incentive so I could become the musician I am today (…). It helped me a lot, it is something I will never forget”

– Dilton, who dreams of becoming a musician.

The days when Minerva parades are sacred and nobody misses it! It is the cultural and social heritage of the town. Supporting this project reinforces Enel’s commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as SDG 4 promotes the importance of an inclusive, equitable and qualitative education.