Francisco Pellegrini, pianist of nature
While observing nature from up close in his daily life, Chico thinks about his compositions: “Making music is organizing sounds and creating a private universe, infinitely diverse. I understand that harmony and beauty are characteristics that are intrinsic to nature, and the music that I like to make is too: simultaneously complex and exuberant in its small details, but simple and beautiful for its harmony in its totality.” READ MORE
Music has always guided the path of pianist, accordionist and composer Francisco Pellegrini. It was music that took him to the samba and choro circles, to the concert halls, to the cinema, to literature, to the will to travel the world and to Vale das Videiras. In the year 2014, Chico realized it no longer made sense to live in the city. He decided to travel through northeastern Brazil and visit Europe. His parents had land in Vale das Videiras since 2013, and after his travels around the world, Chico moved to the countryside. Along with his piano and some albums he recorded in his baggage, he created a bond with the land.
“I already knew the agroforestry system and we started to plant the vivarium’s tree in this system. We experimented with different combinations, understanding which trees would make up the best biomass for the land, the best pruning… Then we brought people who lived nearby to give a talk and guide us.” Francisco began a cycle of talks and cinema sessions that were open to the public about topics related to the environment. The vivarium became a reference in Brazil for the careful and sustainable way in which it is maintained. “It’s only two thousand square meters, approximately, but it’s a lot of work. We made several experiments and then we started to get things right with what we learned. There’s a strong drought period there, sometimes it doesn’t rain for 3 months. So I had to create a system of species that could survive without watering, that would be able to sustain themselves alone with little water.”
Bárbara Pellegrini, Chico’s mother and sower of MUDA TUDO.
It was in the search for Peace of mind that Chico dove into the agroforestry system and feel in love with the complexity of the forest, for the connection that exists between everything that lives there. “I went to look for solutions, to learn about projects, hear different opinions. When someone translates the obvious to you, you become flabbergasted at how you never realized it before! Have you ever noticed that in the forest the soil is always covered, protected, humid, and the plants grow happy and diverse? And that there’s always a stream or a spring nearby? And that in the desert the soil is exposed, dry and no plants can grow? And that it’s really hard to find water? When you plant your food, will you copy the desert or the forest?”
While watching the nature from up close in his daily life, Chico interiorized thinking about his compositions. To him, making music is organizing sounds and creating a private universe, infinitely diverse. “I understand that harmony and beauty are characteristics that are intrinsic to nature, and the music that I like to make also has (or aspires to have) these characteristics: simultaneously complex and exuberant in its small details, but simple and beautiful for its harmony in its totality.”
To Pellegrini, harmony is also present when performing onstage. “What can I do, with words, gestures, clothing, to induce a more favorable environment for a deeper voyage with my music?” He only chooses songs that are vibrating within himself during the occasion and many times the set list is decided moments before he steps onstage. Chico knows that clothing and posture are the first impressions the public has of the artist, so her tries to be as neutral as possible to prevent them from losing their focus. He likes to feel comfortable: he prioritizes trousers, warm socks and large shirts so his arm movements aren’t restricted. “When I found out how much cotton crops pollute, responsible for 1/4 of the world's pesticides, and that the planet’s water is already filled with microplastics, many of them originating from synthetic clothes, I stopped buying clothes. Today, I look for this balance with secondhand clothes or clothes made from agriculture with less environmental impact and a smaller carbon footprint. That is, the most local and organic agriculture possible.”
At the end of our chat, when asked about the natural connections that music provokes, Chico said:
“Many times music (and art in general) takes you to places that never existed or that no longer exist. And that’s wonderful, because it makes it so that the listener, without finding that environment, invents it. The changes always start from within, in the heart, in an idea, in a sensation.”
Today, Francisco Pellegrini lives in Spain with his partner and his son. He has five albums and every year, he visits the vivarium that he helped to build, maintained by his parents.
The MUDA TUDO vivarium is in km 20 of Estrada Almirante Paulo Meira, in Petrópolis (RJ).
Images ceded by Francisco Pellegrini.
Text by Luísa Pollo.