The powerful story behind the viral photograph of a 12-year-old Brazilian violinist

30 September 2020, 16:44

Photo: Marcos Tristao
Photo: Marcos Tristao. Picture: Marcos Tristao

By Kyle Macdonald

The moment of high emotion, grief, and music, and the story behind it.

Evandro João da Silva was a coordinator and highly regarded leader of the AfroReggae Cultural Group that took music, art and culture to the deprived favelas of Rio De Janeiro.

The goal of AfroReggae was to address social inequalities found in the Brazilian metropolis, and combat prejudices using, music, art and culture.

The favelas of Rio De Janeiro
The favelas of Rio De Janeiro. Picture: Getty

On the morning of Sunday 18 October 2009, da Silva was out in Rio De Janeiro with friends, when he was mugged and fatally shot. Local media reported that the muggers took his phones, shoes and wallet before shooting Evandro and fleeing the scene.

His murder shocked the AfroReggae community, and sent outrage and grief into the city’s artistic community. It was also widely reported as a tragic symptom of Rio De Janeiro’s street violence.

The grief and loss was felt deeply by all the young people da Silva helped lift out of poverty and deprivation. And there is one photo that poignantly captures the emotion of that moment.

At the funeral of Evandro João da Silva. Photo: Marcos Tristao
At the funeral of Evandro João da Silva. Photo: Marcos Tristao. Picture: Marcos Tristao

A 12-year-old violinist, who learned music in the Vigário Geral neighbourhood as part of the AfroReggae programme, performed as part of an ensemble at the funeral.

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The emotion of the moment is clear to see. The photo, captured by photographer Marcos Tristao, later went viral online.

It’s a powerful reminder of the tragedy of violence, the power of music, and deep impact inspirational figures like da Silva have on the communities they work in.