For Dr. Carole J. Ott, associate director of choral activities, every opportunity to work with new students is an opportunity to learn more about herself and her craft. Ott has taken this passion for teaching, as well as a passion for research, to São João del-Rei, Minas Gerais, Brazil as the first Fulbright Scholar to collaborate with the Universidade Federal de São João del-Rei. There, she will explore archives of relatively unknown sacred choral music held by orchestras that have been performing this music continuously since the 18th century.
“The music brings the possibility of diversifying the well-known canon of composers such as Mozart, Haydn and Bach, and highlights the abilities of colonial Brazilian musicians,” Ott said.
While teaching and collaborating at the Universidade Federal de São João del-Rei, Ott will work with primary sources found only in local archives, observe and document modern adaptations of 18th century choral music in Brazil, listen to Brazilian pronunciation of Latin texts and transform these primary sources into modern performing editions for choral directors worldwide.
“The editions I create from archival materials could become inspiration for free improvisation, enabling students to experience this music from a new perspective,” Ott said.
Free improvisation is a fundamental part of how she teaches her students. By incorporating free improvisation, Ott said her students experience themselves as not only performers of music, but as creators of original music.
“This has unleashed the creative potential of my students and of every group with whom I have worked in this manner,” Ott said. “I am extremely excited to share this method with music students and faculty in Brazil through workshops or exploratory coursework.”
Ott’s work in Brazil will continue through December, but Ott said she is confident her experiences in Brazil will stick with her well beyond her term as Fulbright Scholar and provide her yet another perspective on teaching and how best to serve all of her students.
By Victor Ayala, Campus Weekly Staff