Artist Profiles: Familia Alcantara Coral

Familia Alcantara Coral

Familia Alcantara Coral is a family from Minas Gerais formed by descendants of Angolan slaves. Humble workers of poor education, they formed a choral group that gradually became known to the general public.

The two records released by Familia Alcantara Coral caught the attention of the Brazilian press and soon the group made TV appearances in England, Portugal and Angola. Only those who belong to the family either by birth or by marriage can sing in the chorus. The Alcantaras’ music is a mixture of sounds of African origin and Catholic chants. The repertoire originated from the chants the family’s matriarch, Filomena Tomazia Vo Mena, used to sing.

Another source of inspiration is the congado de reis, which was initially meant to celebrate the queen Ginga, from Angola, who lived in the 17th century and became famous for defending her people from the Portuguese. Later, the congado incorporated the devotion to the Catholic saints considered to be the patrons of black people.

The technical improvement of the chorus was due to Pedro Antonio de Alcantara, who studied vocal techniques, musical theory and conduction with a Dutch female conductor hired by Belga Mineira Company. With her teachings, Pedro applied to congado music the liturgical voice arrangements, distributing among brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, the soprano, contralto, tenor and baritone parts. The result can be heard in the two CDs of the Familia Alcantara Coral.


Familia Alcantara Coral (MCD World Music, 1995)

Familia Alcantara Coral, Vol. 2 (MCD World Music , 2001)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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