FELIPE KARAM Official
Violinist, multi-instrumentalist, composer and improviser, Brazilian violin virtuoso Felipe Karam has had a lifelong career in instrumental music, nationally and internationally. Felipe transitions between multiple musical styles that also feature him with the five-string violin, an instrument that places him among the most authentic violinists in the current Brazilian music scene. Felipe is considered an artist of "world music," which showcases his mastery of numerous genres such as jazz, eastern European, Irish music, and several Brazilian rhythms.
Born in Porto Alegre, in southern Brazil, Karam holds a BMus in violin from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) and a MA in "Popular Music" (with an emphasis on adapting jazz improvisation to Brazilian music) from City University, London, under the guidance of Cuban violinist Omar Puentes. An important milestone in Felipe’s formation was his completion of a "spring course" at the Center Des Musiques Didier Lockwood (FR 2010) with the renowned violinist on the world jazz scene for several decades. Since then, Felipe’s main focus has been on adapting the violin for improvised Brazilian popular music, based on traditional rhythms, such as Choro, Samba, Chamamé, Milonga and Baião.
Felipe’s musical career began in 1998 with Café Acústico, a group that has twice won the coveted Azorean Award (Best MPB Group - 1999 and 2000). The group was also the winner of the Porto Alegre Music Festival competition. From 2004 onward, Felipe began his international career, dividing his time between Brazil, England and the United States.
While in England, as a member of the Caratinga group, Felipe participated as a musician, violinist and lecturer in projects sponsored by the Arts Council; he continued engaging in similar activities as a member of the Brazilian Ensemble group at Live Music Now Institution. At Live Music Now Institution, annually over a period of six year, Felipe performed over 60 concerts and conducted workshops featuring Brazilian music throughout the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East and the Brazilian Amazon. In Brazil, the trio was awarded the Funarte Concerts Didactic Award 2012, entitled “Multiplying Music in the Amazon,” and, in the United Kingdom, the group engaged in three tours in Northern Ireland, Yorkshire, Harrrowgate Festivals and the Cambridge Festival.
As a composer and performer, Karam also left his mark on the London's dance and theatre scene. In partnership with the local guitarist Peter Michaels, he composed and recorded the instrumentation for the piece Aequus by choreographer Jean Abreu, which was performed live by the violinist and percussionist Alselmo Netto at the Edinburgh Festival in 2008. In 2009, the trio composed by Karam (violin, cavaquinho, bombo leguêro and guitar), Gui Tavares (guitar and voice) and Alselmo Netto (percussion and mandolin) was responsible for the composition and live performance of the musical entitled Amazônia, written by Colin Teevan and Paul Heritage and playing for more than two months at the Young Vic theater in London.
Among the London based creations, Pocket Caravan stands out, with three albums and tours in Europe. Grupo Caratinga de Choro e Samba, was recognized with by the Press Award-UK 2011 as Best album of Brazilian Music. On the London scene, Felipe also performed as a violinist, fiddler and cavaquinist (Brazilian ukulele) with the groups Capital do Samba and Forró Daki Band.
While living in London for eight years, Felipe performed in significant artistic spaces in England, Europe and the Middle East, such as the Royal Festival Hall, Abu Dhabi National Theater, Harrogate Festival, City of London Festival, Edinburgh Festival, Queen Elisabeth Hall, Barbican Center , Thames Festival, Green Note, Le Quecumbar, Shunt Vaults, and others. At the Brazilian Embassy in London, he was also regularly invited to participate in the Xangai and Miltinho Edilberto shows. He shared the stage with and opened for shows by Brazilian artists such as Gal Costa, Dominguinhos da Estácio, Simoninha, Chico Chagas, Renato Borghetti, Rafael Ferrari, Neuro Jr., Samuca do Acordeon, Só Pra Contrariar, Pedrinho Figueiredo, Anselmo Netto, Leandro Maia , among others.
Back in Brazil, in Porto Alegre-RS, he joined the Trio Surdina Pampeano, with Samuca do Acordeon and Neuro Júnior; Choro do Pampa with Rafael Ferrari, Sandro Bonato and Max Garcia; Maestro Tasso Bangel's Camerata Pampeana (first violin and the recording of the DVD “Alma Farroupilha,” 2015-2016) and Musical Estação Brasil with Mathias Pinto and Nani Medeiros. In mid-2015 and 2016, he was part of the teachers' group in the important MPB-JAZZ project held at the Public School of Music in Farroupilha designed by bassist Thiago Daiello, and which was recognized as the Best Culture Project in the State twice by the Federation of Associations of Municipalities of Rio Grande do Sul (FAMURS) Felipe taught popular violin classes and coordinated groups practice, string Ensemble and Choro Ensemble.
In mid-2016 and 2017, he was Fulbright Scholar in Residence Award at the Department of Music, Naugatuck Valley Community College, Waterbury, Connecticut, USA, where he taught "History and Appreciation of Latin American Music" and Jazz Ensemble. Through this opportunity he was able to expand his research on Latin American music and share some of his knowledge and experience on genuine Brazilian music.
In addition to Pocket Caravan's Albums -- “Landscapes” (2008), “7 steps from the border” (2011) and “TH3E” (2013) -- and Caratinga's “Na Ponta do Pé” (2008), Felipe released in 2018 his fifth album, a solo work synthesizing more than 20 years of research and musical experience. Entitled “De Sol a Sol,” the album received two nominations for the 2019 Azorean Music Award (Best Composer and Performer in the Instrumental Category) and was selected for FEMUCIC 2019, a national music award held at the city of Maringá, state of Paraná in South Brazil.
His solo debut album “De Sol a Sol” covers several national and international genres and honors renowned artists such as Hermeto Pascoal and Dominguinhos. In 2020, another track of Felipe’s solo debut album was selected for the online music festival FestivalUP for videos made at home during the Covid-19 quarantine.
Currently, Felipe lives in Porto Alegre-RS and dedicates himself to his solo work, five-string violin, incorporating traditional Eastern European music, gypsy jazz and klesmer, and exploring in his compositions the fusion of these rhythms with Brazilian roots. With his Felipe Karam Quartet, he is currently recording music composed in 2019 celebrating the arrival of his first son and which will be released in 2020 through digital platforms.