UO Musicians Put a Kick in “Capoeira”

photo by Glen Waddell Brian McWhorter, trumpet player

EUGENE, Ore.—(July 24, 2013)—The University of Oregon School of Music and Dance was instrumental in the creation of the music behind “Capoeira: Fly Away Beetle,” an award-winning documentary recently released for online download and rental. The film’s score was composed by Brian McWhorter, associate professor of trumpet at the University of Oregon.

“Capoeira: Fly AwayBeetle” details the development of the ballet-like Brazilian martial art known as capoeira, a hybrid of dance moves and offensive fighting techniques created by African slaves in colonial Brazil. McWhorter’s rhythmic, pulsing score augments the viewer’s perception of the timing and structure of capoeira’s intricate body and leg movements. A perfect accompaniment to a film about a martial art, the music conjures the rich folk music traditions of Brazil’s diverse population.

“Capoeira is accompanied by a musical instrument called a berimbau, and so I studied this instrument and the rhythms it uses prior to composing anything,” McWhorter says of the project. “Once the berimbau was recorded by [fellow musician] Greg Beyer, I layered in melodies and traditional styles and rhythms to fit the spirit of the stories told. It was great fun.”  

McWhorter performs the trumpet part of the “Capoeira: Fly Away Beetle” score, and is joined by additional faculty members of the UO School of Music and Dance: Toby Koenigsberg, keyboard; and Tyler Abbott, bass. Three UO alumni contributed: Kyle Sanna, guitar; Jason Palmer, drums; and Aaron Jester, marimba. UO recording engineer Lance Miller recorded the music in the Eugene, Ore. studio facilities of UO School of Music and Dance.

While “Capoeira: Fly Away Beetle” has enjoyed critical acclaim for nearly two years, the summer of 2013 marks the film’s first availability for digital download or rental on services such as iTunes and Hulu. The film won Best Feature Documentary at the 2012 Philadelphia International Film Festival, and was an official selection at the 2012 BlackStar Film Festival. The film premiered in the U.S. in September 2011 at the Eugene Celebration Film Festival.

An accomplished composer, musician, and teacher, Brian McWhorter received degrees in trumpet performance from the University of Oregon and The Juilliard School. He is co-artistic director of the Beta Collide new music ensemble and music director of Orchestra Next. 

View film trailer: http://vimeo.com/70642296

View film on iTunes: http://bit.ly/19fTGek