Celebrating 200 years of independence in Brazil at Cadogan Hall

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Having been born in Brazil, it is a country that I have much affection for, and so it was a particular delight to join The Ambassador of Brazil, Mr Fred Arruda, and Mrs Lenice Arruda, at Cadogan Hall for a celebratory concert to mark the 200th anniversary of Brazil's independence last month.

Wednesday 7th September marked the 200th anniversary of Brazil's independence after three centuries of Portuguese rule. Having been born in Brazil, it is a country that I have much affection for, and so it was a great privilege to be invited to join The Ambassador of Brazil, Mr Fred Arruda, and Mrs Lenice Arruda, at Cadogan Hall for a celebratory concert to mark the occasion.

200th Anniversary of Brazil

Brazil’s unique story

The story of Brazil's independence is as unique as the country itself. Independence was declared in 1822 by the Crown Prince Pedro. However, fourteen years earlier, Rio de Janeiro had become the capital of a European Empire when King João VI, his family and thousands of courtiers, crossed the Atlantic, escorted by the British fleet, to escape Napoleon's armies.

When João VI eventually returned to Lisbon, he left Pedro in Rio and he became the first Emperor of Brazil, making it unique in the Americas as it became independent as a monarchy. That monarchical system remained in situ until the abolition of slavery in 1888 and the subsequent proclamation of a republic by the military in 1889.

Cadogan Hall

Celebrating past, present and future

The evening at Cadogan Hall included a concert performed by the English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Neil Thompson and with pianist Sonia Rubinsky, who expertly performed Villa-Lobos' Bachianas Brasileiras no.9, Almeida Prado's Concerto Fribourgeois, Cláudio Santoro's Concerto Grosso, and Carlos Gomes' Sonata in D.

Importantly, the 200 year celebration of independence was not just a commemoration of an important event in Brazil's past, but of everything the nation has achieved since - not least its vibrant and diverse culture, its immense and inspiring creativity and its talent for football. A taste of that spirit was beautifully exhibited in the concert - a thoughtful way of commemorating the past and looking forward to the future.

For those interested in exploring Brazil's history further, you may find the Rest is History podcast by historians Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook of interest. In the latter half of episode 229. Portugal: Gold, Earthquakes, and Brazil, they explore the move to independence, the experience of individuals, and the journey towards Brazil’s assertion of its own identity.

For my own part, it’s a joy to join together and celebrate the successes, achievements and hopes of different nations together - may there be many more opportunities to do so.