Overland Park-based musical nonprofit NAVO gives free lessons to students in Brazil

Véronique Mathieu (left) and Shah Sadikov (right) with Overland Park-based music nonprofit NAVO led master classes for underserved students in Brazil this year. Photo credit Carlos Ribeiro

As part of his mission to bring orchestra music to underserved communities, Overland Park conductor Shah Sadikov has introduced music education to schools in Brazil.

Sadikov and his wife, Véronique Mathieu, a violist and music instructor, have volunteered their music education services as part of social projects this year in Brazil. The trips were part of the couple’s offerings through their Overland Park-based nonprofit NAVO, which focuses on bringing classical music to the Kansas City area.

“People think that music is elite or something, that it has nothing to do with regular people,” Sadikov said. “No, it has everything to do [with them]. These social projects give families access to music education through which they inspire them to study well in school. It influences their writing, their math and their science classes, because music is so much related to development.”

NAVO also led concerts as part of the free master classes for violinists and violists in Brazil. Photo submitted

It started earlier this year, when Mathieu’s colleague in Brazil invited them to visit Instituto Fukuda in Sao Paulo in April. There, the couple provided free violin and viola master classes to students as part of the school’s social project inspired by El Sistema, a famous organization that gives music lessons free of charge to students from families with low incomes.

Mathieu also taught violin master classes at the University of Sao Paulo’s south campus in Ribeirão Preto; her students performed a concert at the university at the conclusion of the program.

The April trip went so well that Mathieu and Sadikov returned for another trip in October. During that trip, the couple participated in Campo Grande at the Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso do Sul. They again taught free violin and viola master classes and opened up the program to students from other schools and programs.

The culmination of this trip included a concert as part of the Festival Mais Cultura, during which their students performed alongside faculty  several musical works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Schumann as well as two world premiere works by Brazilian composers Roberto Victório and Silvio Ferraz.

“It was so amazing to bring to life those pieces,” Sadikov said, adding that they drew a packed house at the concert. “And it was an amazing experience for us to see… how many steps forward they’ve made by the end of the week.”

The couple concluded their October trip in Quiaba, Motto Grossom, where they gave master classes — Sadikov also offered lessons in conducting — with the students of Instituto Ciranda, another social project school, and led a concert with the students at the end of the week.

All of the trips involved instruction for students from ages 5 to late 40s, but mostly targeted students in K-12 grades. Sadikov said it was an “amazing experience” teaching them.

“When you see the students looking at you, they have so much hunger to grow,” he said. “That’s the most exciting thing for anybody who is in education. You get extra pump, extra energy, extra inspiration from seeing students who want to know.”

NAVO is planning to return to Brazil for more volunteer master classes in fall 2020.

“We’ve always seen NAVO as a goodwill organization that will spread the good of music and arts,” Sadikov said. ““This is us expanding beyond Kansas, bringing our goodwill.”