By Jean Peat
Bráulio Bosi loves sharing his passion and heritage with a wide range of people throughout Kansas City.
As a UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance alumnus, scholarship recipient, and the school’s new guitar professor, he often plays at events around the city and interacts with donors to the Conservatory.
“If it weren’t for the scholarship I received while earning my Ph.D., I wouldn’t have come here, period,” he says.
A native of Brazil, Bráulio received the Ryan Greenberg Scholarship and cherishes the relationship he’s built over the years with the fund’s donors, Larry and Genie Greenberg.
“As an international student, I know the importance of having someone who could introduce me to American culture,” he says. “The Greenbergs and I are good friends – they have been great to me.”
Recruited as a student by former Conservatory guitar professor, Doug Niedt, Bráulio moved into his teacher’s role last fall when Niedt retired. Bráulio and his wife, a current UMKC student, had gone back to Brazil for a year when he was recruited for the position and decided to return to Kansas City.
“It feels so welcoming here – like you’re wanted and you belong,” he says. “Other schools are friendly, but never at the level of UMKC.”
Bráulio hopes to create a guitar tradition here by recruiting students while building bigger programs within area high schools.
“Guitar programs are large at southern high schools in Oklahoma and Texas, and I believe that’s what we need here in Kansas City,” he says.
When he’s not teaching, recruiting or working on his research, Bráulio enjoys playing at different venues around town, and the ones he looks most forward to are his performances at Bishop Spencer Place, a retirement community near the Plaza.
“They are my favorite audience in Kansas City. I always tell them that, and I mean it,” he says. “I have become friends with some of the residents there who are donors to the Conservatory. While I play, I talk a lot about the cultural aspect of a song and what it means in Brazil. It’s a very personal concert because they know me well.
“A lot of my repertory is from Latin America, from northeast Brazil, the Amazon, and my state of Espírito Santo, north of Rio. The audience thinks Bach is cool, but they really want to know ‘when is he going to play Brazilian music?’”
Barbara Weary, who started the Women’s Committee Taylor Weary Scholarship at the Conservatory, has seen Bráulio perform at Bishop Spencer Place every year since he was a first-year doctoral student at UMKC.
“It has been so much fun to see his self-confidence grow,” she says. “He has so much presence and is always trying new things. He is a breath of fresh air and I truly admire him.”
Bráulio thinks that talent matters, but the ability to sit down and practice for hours and hours is what he feels makes a musician successful. It’s often these long sessions that can cause injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
“People don’t always see the work that goes on behind the scenes – the pressure to give a perfect performance,” he says. “When you’re practicing eight hours a day, it can put significant stress on your muscles and tendons. Musicians are athletes for small muscles.”
To help prevent injuries as well as break bad habits, Bráulio’s dissertation and research is focused on creating techniques to help guitarists have an injury-free career, and his articles have appeared in many journals in Latin America.
At the end of the day, it’s all about the opportunity to play his guitar and introduce others to his background.
If it wasn’t for donors, Bráulio believes there would be significantly less high-quality art of any kind. It’s important to him that we continue to talk about music, dance and the arts from our different countries.
“Art is what really represents any culture,” he says. “Donors are who keep this tradition alive.”