Culture as a weapon of massive social construction: the example of the Bahian orchestra Neojiba

In these complicated times when teaching history and tolerance can become a risky job, those who were able to attend one of the concerts of the memorable tour of the Bahian orchestra Neojiba in Europe in 2017 know it well: if misery and obscurantism, often linked by a diabolical pact that some people too often want to ignore, can destroy, social inclusion federates and strengthens the social contract. The Bahian orchestra Neojiba, under the iron rule of its founder Castro, has broken the apparent challenge of building a philharmonic ensemble from young people from the underprivileged neighbourhoods of « Black Rome », Salvador de Bahia.  The mere reading of the title « Neojiba sets the Paris Philharmonic on fire » can convey the quality of the playing of these young musicians, such is the high standard of the audience in this concert hall where the geotian who would make the surprising mistake of applauding out of turn is doomed to grimaces.

It is Ricardo Castro’s passion for music and passion for transmission that burned the boards of the Paris Philharmonic. Like that of the « sistema » in Venezuela, the story of Neojiba is one of a will, that of bringing dignity through art and work and arousing a certain self-consideration in all those forgotten by the Brazilian system. The NEOJIBA programme is the result of « a priority public policy of the government of the State of Bahia, under the aegis of the Secretariat of Justice, Human Rights and Social Development.  (

This orchestra is above all a school that trains thousands of budding musicians on its various sites. The older ones supervise and train the younger ones, no matter if not all of them will follow a career as a professional musician.


 « The dignity acquired through music, the solidarity of orchestral practice, the discovery of musical love and the stimulation of prestige are essential driving forces, » declared Maestro Castro in the Swiss daily newspaper « Le Temps ».

 « We started with 80 children in the orchestra, we are now at 140. And we had to create two other formations because you can’t have more than 160 instrumentalists for a complete symphonic ensemble. The new Castro Alves Orchestra has 90 young people and the Experimental Pedagogical Orchestra has 45 children aged 6 to 7. On a national level, the education system will have reached 4,500 pupils today, and our goal is to reach 10,000 children by the tenth anniversary of Neojiba in 2017. My great pride is that today this musical organisation has become a political argument on a par with education or health. The candidates for the future presidency of the country are fighting over the subject ». (ibidem)

One of Ricardo Castro’s great satisfactions is the international recognition of the young chef Yuri Azevedo, 27 years old and a graduate of the Neojiba school. If this programme, in spite of its thousands of beneficiaries, is a drop in the ocean of world misery, it could be a way for the French councillors to work to resettle the Republic in its lost territories.

Translated with (free version)

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