Refugee and Immigrant musicians transcend division

Carlinhos Antunes (near the top center of the image, wearing a red hat) is photographed with Orquestra Mundana Refugi.

Genesis at the Crossroads joyously celebrates the accomplishments of all those involved in Orquestra Mundana Refugi, the refugee orchestra of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Carlinhos Antunes, the co-founder of Mundana Orchestra and guest soloist Badi Assad recently received a grant to master a new recording of a celebrated Brazilian album, Olho de Peixe with the Orquestra Mundana Refugi. Carlinhos Antunes and Badi Assad, both treasured performers in Genesis’ Sounds of Healing, also serve as the program’s musical arranger and musical director, respectively.  In a time of deep division and animosity between people from different cultures, Genesis proudly acknowledges their creative leadership and artistry.  

Originally conceived by Carlinhos Antunes and Cléo Miranda, and supported by SESC, the orchestra evolved through the REFUGI project, an initiative that brought together refugee and immigrant musicians to foster their integration through workshops, debates, and open rehearsals. In 2017 these São Paulo-based musicians from diverse global backgrounds joined the seasoned professionals of the Mundana Orchestra to form Orquestra Mundana Refugi.  Comprised of 22 musicians from The Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Asia, (Syrian, Palestinian, Iranian, Tunisian, Congolese, Guinean, Turkish, French, Chinese, Venezuela, Cuban, and Brazilian), the Orquestra Mundana Refugi embraces a spectrum of sounds, instruments, melodies, and dreams fostering coexistence and musical ideals. Renowned for blending Brazilian music with cultures worldwide, together, they envision a world characterized by respect, fairness, and diversity, with music serving as a central, unifying force. Beyond music, the orchestra actively engages in global humanitarian causes, advocating against all forms of oppression and exploitation.

The Orquestra Mundana Refugi has produced three albums, numerous documentaries, and graced the stages of Brazil’s foremost concert halls over the past six years. This coming year, in tribute to lauded musicians Lenine and Marcos Suzano, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of this album, Orquestra Mundana Refugi and guest soloist Badi Assad will be performing the album’s newest rendition throughout Brazil. Collaborations with Genesis’ Saffron Caravan have been in discussion for future artistic and educational programs.

Collaborating with the Orquestra Mundana Refugi is both a pleasure and an honor. Our joint endeavor resonates deeply as we share the belief that music transcends boundaries, weaving a tapestry where cultures intertwine, proving that music, in its purest form, knows no borders.”

Badi Assad

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