Fado music combines musical improvisation, top-notch lyricism, and a tradition covering more than 200 years of Portuguese history. Its themes vary widely, from tales of treachery in close-to-the-bone relationships to emotional confessions of unrequited love. But fado's long tradition does not hold it back: there are always new themes, new modes of expression, and new talents.
With this project, we want to bring fado from Portugal to the US from 18 October to 3 November, 2013⎯⎯putting it in the intimate settings like the small restaurants where it has flourished, as well as in social clubs, schools and universities. To help give financial ballast to the effort and to help us reach yet more people, we are also staging a limited number of larger shows. In all these events, the artists from Portugal will be collaborating on stage with some of the US' best fado singers and musicians, thus opening up new avenues of expression and shared experience.
The three artists visiting from Portugal--the singer Rodrigo Costa Félix, and the guitarists Marta Pereira da Costa and Pedro Pinhal--are at the forefront of contemporary fado as performed in the fado houses of Portugal. This means they are plugged in both to the latest music, but also deeply influenced by the fado tradition. Their US counterparts--the singers Nathalie Pires and Catarina Avelar, and the guitarist Pedro Pimentel--are part of a new wave of young fado performers who were born in the US but are deeply involved in the fado. Indeed, Nathalie's contributions to the music were recently recognized by the Portuguese government. All three of them have performed extensively in this country.
Contributions to this Kickstarter campaign will support a two-week, not-for-profit program of fado performances (in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York), university workshops and school visits, as well as dialogue and interaction in the communities where these events take place. The performers speak fluent English and Portuguese, enabling them to communicate with US audiences in ways that are not usually possible. The contributions will support international and local travel and accommodations for the artists, including airfare to/from Portugal, and ground transportation and lodging during their time in the US.
Events during the visit begin with a kickoff concert in Lowell, MA on 18-October and conclude with a show in New York City on 3-November. There is a ticket charge for concerts, all of which are open to the public; workshops are free and open to the public subject to available seating; attendance at visits to schools is limited to students and teachers. Below are the confirmed dates and venues (note that the complete agenda continues to expand, so see the project's web site for the latest details as well as ticketing information):
Friday, October 18, 2013 at 7 p.m. UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, 50 Warren St, Lowell, MA 01852. Rodrigo Costa Félix, Marta Pereira da Costa, Pedro Pinhal and Pedro Pimentel. With special guest singer Nathalie Pires.
Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. Clube Juventude Lusitana*, 10 Chase St, Cumberland, RI 02864. Rodrigo Costa Félix, Marta Pereira da Costa, Pedro Pinhal and Pedro Pimentel, with special guest singer Catarina Avelar.
Monday, October 21 through Wednesday, October 23. University workshops (locations and times TBA). Rodrigo Costa Félix, Marta Pereira da Costa and Pedro Pinhal.
Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 7:15pm. Johnny D's Uptown & Music Club, 17 Holland St., Davis Square, Somerville, MA 02144. Rodrigo Costa Félix, Marta Pereira da Costa, Pedro Pinhal and Pedro Pimentel, with special guest singer Catarina Avelar.
Saturday, October, 26, 2013 at 7 p.m. Lusitano Restaurant & Royal Gardens*, 822 King Philip Street, Fall River, Massachusetts 02724. Rodrigo Costa Félix, Marta Pereira da Costa, Pedro Pinhal and Pedro Pimentel, with special guest singer Nathalie Pires.
Sunday, November 3, 2013 at 7 p.m. DROM, 85 Ave A, New York, New York 10009. Rodrigo Costa Félix, Marta Pereira da Costa, Pedro Pinhal and Pedro Pimentel, with special guest singer Catarina Avelar.
* Ticket price includes Portuguese dinner.
About the artists
About Portuguese/American Cultural Exchange
This project is organized by Portuguese/American Cultural Exchange, Inc., a not-for-profit organization based in Woburn, Massachusetts. Our mission is to bridge Portuguese and American cultures through the fado. The organization was formed by Feligénio Medeiros and me in the last year, and this is our first series of events. We are handling all aspects of the project, from securing dates and external support, to preparing visas and all travel logistics. By coming to the concerts (or supporting this campaign!), you will be enabling a number of community outreach and service activities, including workshops and school visits, as well as informal interactions among the artists themselves and the communities they will be visiting. Our work benefits from the sponsorship of the Saab-Pedroso Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture at UMass/Lowell, Camões Institute, and SATA. In the future, we want to continue to offer programs like this one, to include visits by an evolving group of artists to different parts of this country.
Risks and challenges
The main challenge is getting the word out to people who don't know about the fado so that they will buy tickets to the shows and appear at the workshops. We are pushing press releases through traditional and social media, working closely with Portuguese communities (particularly through social clubs and the diplomatic corps), and advertising in collaboration with the venues. When possible, we are also collaborating with like-minded organizations in the use of their mailing lists and networks of contacts to generate interest in the project.
An additional set of challenges relates to documenting and demonstrating the success of this project. This will be important both for financing future projects (for example, through grant proposals) and for forging stronger connections with partner organizations in the US and Portugal. For this project, we will be documenting the different events (throebugh photos, video and write-ups), performers' and audience's reactions to the experience, and the project's exposure in the press. The main outlets for communicating our results will be the fado-related web sites and social media groups that we and others run, but also traditional media such as Portuguese- and English-language newspapers.
The logistics and scope of this effort are also a challenge. We have compressed approximately one month's worth of activities into two weeks, so the artists will all be quite busy--and they might get tired or have health problems. To minimize these risks, we have developed a network of backup singers and musicians who we would hope to be able to call upon if the need arose. The fado world is fiercely well connected, and over the last few years we have developed personal contacts with many US-based singers and musicians. Lastly, the logistics of the effort require travel (on the cusp of winter) to various locations in the northeast. In the case of weather-related postponements, we have left some slots open in the schedule. Our plan in the event of solid good weather is to book these dates with gigs in smaller venues (such as restaurants), where the sets will be shorter so as not to place further stress on the performers.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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