UC Riverside

Paulo Chagas

Paulo Chagas

Harnessing the Power of Music

As a young man, Brazilian native Paulo C. Chagas was imprisoned for political activity and according to him music was what saved his life. Now as a professor at UC Riverside, he is responsible for passing on the power of music to his students.

In 2006-07, he and poet Dan Albertson developed a modern opera named “eros-ion!” that acted as a social commentary, reflecting on the efforts of scientists to develop artificial life.

In 2008, he and Johannes Birringer, a choreographer and media artist, created the music-theatre production “Corpo, Carne e Espírito,” which investigates the invisible forces of the human body in the contexts of the artistic creation, interactive technology, virtual and immersive environments.

“Art is more than recreation — it is more than entertainment,” said Chagas. “Art is a source of values for the society.”

A composer who has worked across the globe, Chagas has written more than 100 pieces of music and his works have been performed in the United States, Russia and throughout Latin America and Europe.

While Chagas has resided in California since 2004, he has kept close roots to Brazil, bringing Latin culture to the students and community of UCR.

With a shared passion for Spanish and Latin American music, he and three others developed the Center for Iberian and Latin American Music on campus in 2004. Chagas works alongside the music department chair, musicologist Walter A. Clark, ethnomusicologist Jonathan Ritter and musicologists Leonora Saavedra and Rogerio Budasz on the program to celebrate the musical heritage of Latin America, Portugal and Spain.

“The idea of the center is inextricably linked to the history and culture of the Latino communities of Southern California,” said Walter Clark. “We don’t want to be so preoccupied with being world class that we forget about the world around us.”

Chagas feels that teachers are responsible to educate students about the true importance of music. There is more to the art than entertainment — music communicates ideas and reflects the values of the society we live in.

Alongside his dedication to various programs and work in the community, Chagas focuses on his theoretical research in music, media philosophy and musical semiotics. He is currently researching interactivity and gesture, finding relationships between image, movement and sound and is developing a new facility and center for research, the Experimental Acoustic Research Studio (EARS), which focuses on the production and performance of electroacoustic music and multimedia.

Learn more about Professor Paulo Chagas and his research.

Watch a video of Chagas speaking about the UCR EAR Studio.

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