Cities are born from the accomplishing of ideas, from a design about the future, supported on creativity, imagination and freedom.
In the case of Amarante, music can have a key role in building an urban model able to integrate diverse cultural identities and expressions, in which “local” and “global” come together as they include contexts of cult and culture and spaces of consumption and leisure.
Music will enable the rediscovery of the city as a meeting place, one of dynamism and creativity, as opposed to a contentions environment, closed on itself. The propitiated conditions will allow for actions of union and creation, fostering the production of events, and consequently act on the behalf of a growing sense of community and social cohesion, helping to build, creatively, better and happier ways of living
The documented presence of music in Amarante coincides with the fixation in the city of its first churches and monasteries, in the 11th century.
Sacred music was a privileged way for spiritual expression in monastic life and liturgic ritual, thus making it an element present, side by side, with the daily life of these religious institutions, some of which count today close to a thousand years of existence. And just like the settled temples, so did music went through changes, restorations, re-foundations and ornamentations in the fashion of the times.
The religious aspect of music in Amarante is still very much present, shown by the existence of four Iberian pipe organs, recently restored and regularly used, distributed through the city’s three main churches.
Popular music in the territory, on the other hand, traces to time immemorial, though unlike sacred music, it was seldom registered in written form.
However, these popular deep musical roots are still evident in the practices of various folklore groups and ranches, of rural “tunas” and of percussion groups known as the “zés pereiras”. Their singular way of instrument building and playing is also a portrait of the context’s particularities. Examples of these instruments are the drums, the fiddle, and the “viola amarantina”, the latter depicted in some of the works of Amadeu de Souza-Cardoso.
In the last quarter of the 19th century, there were already records of the existence of philharmonic bands, two of which still remain active. Through the 20th century it is evident that the city’s music culture grew stronger, as new groups were founded, that marked its music education and practice. The Tuna dos Empregados do Comércio de Amarante (1930s), the Orquestra de Jazz Amarantina and the Orfeão Amarantino (1940s and 50s), which are fairly contemporary to the opening of Amarante’s Cine-Theatre, in 1947, kindled the city’s urban life and conviviality around the music sphere. Other events must also be regarded such as the emblematic Tâmega Festival, a pop-rock music festival and contest held by the Tâmega river in the years between 1979 and 1993, and Amarante’s memorable summer balls, with live music, that are emblematic of the city’s decades of 50, 60 and 70 of the last century.
In the 1980s and 90s, Portugal invested greatly in the democratization of its population’s access to culture, and music had a tremendous increase in the number of practitioners and audience. In Amarante, musical creation, education and fruition both intensified and diversified, as it attracted new musicians and groups, music schools and spaces to it dedicated, such as music stores, recording studios and music events and festivals. Nonetheless, it is only by the first decade of the new millennium that the city’s musical landscape will assume a major role in both its region and its country, with further diversification of its musical and creative offer.
In 2001 a major agent in this process established itself in Amarante: its first professional orchestra, called Orquestra do Norte. The group recognized in the city a promising context for its fixation and development and was itself a very important agent in Amarante’s musical growth.
Also instrumental, for its dynamism and richness, was the framework provided by the city’s amateur musicians, organized in several groups and philharmonic bands (two of which centenary), folklore ranches, folklore music groups, rural “tunas”, drums groups, choral groups and others of the sort.
Adding to this, one cannot forget the valuable impact that an effort on musical education and training, both formal and informal, has had in the mentioned development process.
Finally, it should be highlighted the striking number of regular music events, such as the city’s several music festivals, which are managed in order to maintain a quality programming on the subject, and are responsible for drawing to Amarante thousands of people each year.
Discover by browsing this website, what other reasons make present-day Amarante a City of Music!
“Amarante has, from my understanding, all the influences of all the passings that happen here and, just like in the rest of the country, music is very transversal.”
Pró Pagode Association
“Amarante is a very beautiful city, with a vast cultural heritage and specially relevant in music. As we know, we have so many events, be it workshops, festivals. We have countless music groups of various styles, we have the ‘viola amarantina’, we have orchestras, we have education…”
President of the ESTG, Porto Polytechnic
“I’ve always noticed that [in Amarante] there’s a close relationship between people and music. (…) It has a really big a basis and a critical mass, to work on the music universe.”
Producer and Cultural Events Programmer
“Amarante is an extremely beautiful city it has human and heritage wealth, that goes beyond what’s built. And music, being an instrument of culture, and being resultant from culture could not pass by this quality of both Amarante and the ‘amarantinos’.”
Director of Rota do Românico
“We end up having [in Amarante] a very large array, and nowadays very diversified and strong in several music sectors: from traditional music, to classical music…”
Producer and Musician
“There’s an amazing adherence [to music in Amarante] from six to eighty years old (…) I get surprised with the ‘viola amarantina’, with the relationship, the effect it had through the ‘amarantinos’, and even outside [of Amarante], since it’s crossing borders.”