By Matthew Ehret
As China’s Belt and Road Initiative continues to lift millions out of poverty through long term investments into energy, water, transportation, education and science projects, a too often overlooked and yet incredibly important effect has been the explosion of cultural optimism and beautiful artistic expression found among the youth touched by the endeavour.
A wonderful expression of this renaissance spirit has appeared in one of the most violent and poorest areas of Rio De Janeiro in Brazil. It is here that China’s State Grid Corporation has been constructing one of the largest electricity transportation projects in the world since 2011 involving an Ultra High Voltage system to transport electricity over 2000 km from the northern Belo Monte Dam in the Amazon towards the impoverished and population-dense south. This electricity superhighway will supply electricity to over 22 million people and the effects have resulted in the most inspired growth of classical music anywhere in Brazil.
Early on in this projects construction, the Chinese company working alongside dedicated musicians in Brazil cultivated the Mare Orchestra of Tomorrow which has now grown to proportions un-imagined 8 years ago.
Cai Hongxian, President of State Grid Brazil Holding who has led in the financing of this cultural project said:
“the orchestra grew along our company in Brazil. In the past eight yerars more than 2000 children benefited from this program. That’s where our social responsibility lies”
Inaugurating the new orchestral school in December 2019 which will benefit 3500 youth aged 4-20, Cai said:
“it’s like watching a child grow. And it brings light to cities and people along its path. More importantly, to boost Brazil’s industrial development.”
In a CGTV segment, a young violinist described his appreciation of the project:
“It changed my life, it brought me friendship, patience to study, better grades and it opened a door. I always wanted to be a musician, but I didn’t have an opportunity, which is something the orchestra gave me.”
Carlos Eduardo Prazeres, the musical director of the new school said:
“You can be sure that music touches their souls and they are able to escape drugs and violence. They discover they can dream and can be whomever they wish”.
While Brazil has not officially signed onto the Belt and Road Initiative yet, China’s presence in South America is growing at an accelerating rate with 17 Latin American and Caribbean nations already joining the new framework for long term development and inter-connectivity. We can be sure to expect ever more artistic creations as a hope for the future is awoken in the hearts and minds of more citizens who have known only poverty, corruption and despair for far too long.