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The Music Tree

Winner of the first annual Polly Krakora Award for Artistry in Film, presented by the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital

The future of classical music hinges on the survival of the tree for which Brazil was named. Brazilwood (pernambuco), a dense orange-red heartwood, was exploited for its red dye by European settlers and is now threatened with extinction. Found only in the remnants of the devastated Atlantic Rainforest on the coast of Brazil, this tree has been vital in the manufacturing of fine violin bows and other instruments ever since Mozart was composing his masterpieces in Vienna. The Music Tree traces the history of pernambuco as well as the pedigree of some of the world’s finest bows and bow-makers. A stellar list of violinists and cellists, including Joshua Bell and Antônio Meneses, demonstrate how this unique wood expresses the soul of the music. Shrinking supplies have forced archetiers, or bow craftsmen, to be proactive. They have established a fund to find the last genetic samples of pernambuco and register the remaining wood in the market. An alliance has also been formed with cacao plantations to grow brazilwood seedlings within their existing plantations, providing a canopy for the cacao plants that grow in the shade. Some 250 archetiers have helped to plant 500,000 trees so far, but will this be enough to save the species and their profession? The film explores a path to saving these imperiled trees, along with the music that depends on them (—cine las Americas). Directed by Otavio Juliano. Produced by Luciana Ferraz and Rogerio Ribeiro. Winner, Best Documentary Film, FICA 2009.

Introduced by Flo Stone, President and Founder, Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital. Discussion with filmmaker Otavio Juliano follows screening.

Ticket/Reservation Info: FREE

Carnegie Institution for Science, Elihu Root Auditorium, 1530 P St., NW
(METRO: Dupont Circle)