Tuesday, July 25, 2017
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Cisternmusica Music Festival of Alcobaca

Every year, in June and July, we have the wonderful privelege of being offered a feast of new musical experiences in the form of concerts of a wide variey offered by the Organisers of Cistermusica. These concerts are based around Alcobaça but are open to all who can stump up the very reasonable ticket prices asked to hear top class musicians right on our doorstep.


For anyone who does not know, the Municipality of Alcobaça is in the District of Leiria in Central Portugal, around the middle of the Silver Coast.

Each time I am also puzzled by the small number of English speaking people in the audience and believe that fault to be in the lack of Publicity offered by the Organisation. Yes, they put up posters and small pieces in the local Portuguese Press but they fail to appreciate that there is a possibility to gain access to a much wider audience by using English Publications.

This was my reason for doing these reviews for Hey Portugal, of concerts that myself and John have enjoyed. Of course we cannot get to all of them but maybe I can whet your appetites enough that next year a little advance warning will invite you all to look at the Programme when it becomes available on the website.

For us, the two highlights this year were both performed in the middle of July, luckily on separate evenings.

The first, which was at the Cineteatro in the centre of Alcobaça and started at the amazingly civilised time of 6.00 pm, rather than the tardy norm of 9.30, was the very famous piece entitled, in German "Das Lied von der Erde", or the Song of the Earth. This consists of a series of poems written by Chinese poets and some of the most expressive pieces of the music, often played by flute or horn, have a very Chinese sound. The small Orchestra Camerata NovÁrte just fitted on the stage but were all superb, many playing small solo parts. The two solo singers: Susana Milena, soprano and Mario Alves, both Portuguese, were as good as any I have heard in London or Vienna. A small distraction was caused by a number of very short power failures but the artists continued undeterred and we had a wonderful experience, for just €8 each!


The second on the Sunday, again at 6.00 pm, was at the beautiful old convento of Cos, easily reached from the roundabout just after the big Spal factory. As usual Snr Delgado gave a short introduction in Português, which we strained to keep up with and then, to our surprise, because there were a number of foreigners there, he did it again in English, which made us feel especially welcome. We were treated to an amazing variey of music played by the Katona twins on Classical guitars. Absolutely identical and very good looking young men, of Hungarian birth, they arrange all their music for two guitars and have this wonderful ability to think together, which is only available to twins. The programme ranged through Mozart´s Clemenza di Tito, JS Bach´s Suite Inglesa, originally written for harpsichord, through Bizet´s Suites Carmen (some of us felt like joining in here). Then, after the Interval Granados´Dance Espanhole No2, Mallorca, a very beautiful piece by I Albeniz and finally by Manuel de Falla , El Amor Brujo. At this point we all felt like jumping up and stamping our feet in time with the beating hands on the guitars. We tried not to let them go but they had given us a magical evening and had clearly had enough.

I do hope that this little taste of the pleasure we have had will encourage more of you to look at the website of Cistermusica (www.cisternmusica.com), the concerts are on througout the whole of June and July.

Enjoy it while you can!

written by Mary Miller

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