A myriad of culture

SRBCC featuring Mr. Flygt’s Samba performances



Mr. Flygt’s performance group from 2015-2016 performing at the Carnaval in SRBCC. Below left, Mr. Flygt’s current Samba group performing on surdo bass drums in the SRBCC. (Photo Courtesy of Mr. Flygt)

By Dominika Chruszcz, Assistant News Editor

A clang of shakers and rhythmic drums erupted from the stage of the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center (SRBCC) during one of Mr. Flygt’s recent evening classes. A festive and groovy vibe was recognized among the crowd: eager to dance and celebrate. Colors of fiery reds and exuberant yellows set the mood and the experience could have been described as spectacular.

The word Samba itself is thought to be derived from the Angolan term “semba,” which means “invitation to dance,” according to National Geographic. The Brazilian musical style is characterized by introducing an abundance of energy to its audience. A similar vigor can be sensed during any rehearsals and shows led by Flygt, band teacher and main performer of his own Samba performances.

Flygt began expanding his interests in Samba in 2004. As a college student majoring in percussion performance and music education, the fascination with Samba music got serious in 2009, the year after he student-taught at Lane. Alongside teaching Concert Band and certain music appreciation classes, Flygt began to teach percussion in 2011.

“When I left college and lived in Colorado briefly, I realized that I wanted to continue to do the things I was doing in college but I had to seek them out,” he said.

Before 2011, Lane had two percussion classes that had groups of about 50 students each. In the beginning, Flygt had to utilize his own drums for teaching his classes. To supply for his current students, he applied for multiple grants that would provide new instruments.

“It started off by using a bunch of my personal drums,” he said. “Then I was able to get some other drums cheaply and keep on getting new stuff until I was able to have enough drums. That’s probably one of the issues, is having enough instruments.”

Flygt’s Marching Band and Advanced Band IV classes incorporate instruments like the surdo de primeira, surdo de segunda, surdo de corte, caixa, repique, and chocalho. The surdos are bass drums and caixas are snare drums that rely on regular beats to carry the groove. Repiques can be described as bells that can play plenty of variations.

These instruments are showcased at the SRBCC in Chicago. Flygt’s Samba classes inside and outside of Lane moved into that location in 2014. The rehearsals at SRBCC are a part of a non-profit organization for Brazilian music and dance called the Evanston Escola de Samba.

“I had long wanted to move the group to the city because it’d be easier for Lane students to go to, for my friends to go to,” Flygt said. “That’s where we have classes and our big event.”

The SRBCC features high ceilings and vibrant colors in its open rehearsal space.

“The thing that’s interesting is that that space looks like what’s called a ‘quadra,’ which is a rehearsal spot in Brazil,” he said.

In honor of one of Chicago’s music events, the Brazilian Carnaval 2017! showcased talents of live Samba groups at the International House of the University of Chicago. The event traditionally assembles annually between the months of February and March after Lent. In Christianity, Lent is a time of fasting during springtime.

This year, it assembled Feb. 25. A Carnaval honoring more Brazilian music is set to take place May 5 in the SRBCC. Flygt’s performance group will take the stage that Saturday afternoon.

Not only are SRBCC adult members part of Flygt’s performance group, his own students are as well.

One of these prominent students that remain highly active in any Band concerts and beyond is Deven Kane, Div. 765. Kane started in Flygt’s percussion class during his senior year. He’s been a member of the Varsity Marching Band for four years and he sees his teacher’s passion for Samba during their rehearsals.

“When he plays, he always has a smile on his face and you can always see that he loves what he does and that inspires us to love what we do,” Kane said.

Shane Hathaway, Div. 765, is a first-time member of the percussion class his senior year as well. He believes that rehearsals for Samba represent Brazilian culture effectively.

“I think anyone who is interested in music or needs a music credit should definitely take this class,” Hathaway said. “It’s a more tight-knit group and we all play music together. It feels more like a family than a Common Core class.”