April 16th was World Voice Day. A special concert was held at the National Pantheon in Lisbon.
The concert was free to public, with advanced reservations. Thanks to my friend Christine, we were able to attend at this beautiful Baroque building. It was truly an unique experience!
Several music genres were introduced.
The first was Cante Alentejano – a traditional music genre primarily from the lower Alentejo (Baixo Alentejo) region of Portugal.
The performers (all men) wore fato domingueiro – traditional Portuguese wedding suit – with bowties. The songs were performed purely vocally – without instrumentation -with singing alternated between several leads in the group and the chorus.
I was impressed with the solemnity of the singers. Arms were locked when they perfomed, demonstrating a sense of unity and intimacy. At one point, the whole group swayed from side to side.
Cante Alentejano was added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2014. Below is a recording of the performance at the Kennedy Center in 2019.
It is worth mentioning that the song “Grândola, Vila Morena” – broadcasted on radio in the morning of April 25th, 1974, as a signal of the military coup to overthrow the authoritarian Estado Novo regime – is sung in the style of Cante Alentenjano.
The second music genre introducted was Morna from the former Portuguese colony of Cape Verde. Lyrics are usually in Cape Verdean Creole, and instrumentation often includes cavaquinho (a four-string guitar), clarinet, accordion, violin, piano and guitar.
The most popular Morna song is Sodade – the Cape Verdean Creole variant of the Portuguese term Saudade – made popular by singer Cesária Évora . Filled with longings and nostalgia, the song refers to the contracted labour migration from Cape Verde to São Tomé.
According to Wikipedia, Morna and other genres of Cape Verdean music are played in Cape Verdean migrant communities abroad, especially in New England in the US, Portugal, the Netherlands, France, West Africa and parts of Latin America.
Finally a concert of voice cannot be complete without Portugual’s iconic Fado. There are primarily two styles of Fado in Portugal – that of Lisbon and Coimbra. The Lisbon style – originated from the neighbourhoods of Alfama and Mouraria – is the most known, while the Coimbra style is linked to its university. The most famous Fado singer is Amália Rodrigues – who was interred at the National Pantheon alongside other Portuguese notables.
Now adding this talented singer – Teresinha Landeira – of 25, who started singing Fado at the age of 12.
As a tribute to the genre, she sang the song “O Meu Xaile” – “My shawl” and her voice projected beautifuly throughout the high domes of the National Patheon.
The lyric goes like this:
A vida pôs-me um xaile sobre os ombros
Deu-me um ar amargurado
Disse que eu era fadista e pôs-me na alma, um fado
E eu canto a minha vida com o meu xaile traçado
E vou cantando a saudade
De coisas que nunca vi
Tristezas e desenganos
De amores que nunca vivi
E sempre com o meu xaile traçado
Em cruz, sobre o coração
No meu destino fadista, no meu ar amargurado
Eu não queria que o meu fado, fosse só recordação
Eu queria um fado que desse
Nova expressão ao meu fado
Porque o meu fado merece
Não ser apenas passado
Life has put a shawl on my shoulders
Gave me a bitter look
Said I was a fado singer and put a fado in my soul
And I sing my life with my shawl drawn
And I’m singing the longing
Of things I’ve never seen
Of sorrows and disappointments
Of loves I never lived
And always with my shawl drawn
Crossed over my heart
In my fate as a fado singer, in my bitter air
I didn’t want my fado to be just a memory
I wanted a fado that would give
A new expression to my fado
Because my fado deserves
Not to be just a past
Translated with http://www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
The World Voice Day was established on April 16th with the main purpose of increasing public awareness of the importance of the voice and its related problems.