Tag Archives: João Afonso

The Passionate Music of Alentejo, the Focus of EXIB 2016 Opening Concert

The 2016 edition of the Iberoamerican Music Expo (EXIB) opened May 4th in Evora, Portugal. Evora is a beautiful walled city, a UNESCO world heritage site that includes numerous monuments spanning centuries. Evora is located in the Alentejo region of Portugal. It’s part of Portugal’s heartland and is defined by its rural nature. For the EXIB opening, organizers treated the audience to a mix of southern Portuguese traditional and contemporary folk music.


Grupo Coral e Etnográfico Cantares de Évora - Photo by Angel Romero
Grupo Coral e Etnográfico Cantares de Évora – Photo by Angel Romero


The concert at the Teatro Garcia de Resende started with the Grupo Coral e Etnográfico Cantares de Évora, marching through the center aisle towards the stage. This group of talented male and female singers, perform dressed in various costumes reflecting various social strata and professions from the mid-20th century, including traditional farmer, cowboy, and shepherd attire.

They perform traditional cante alentejano, an a cappella style that celebrates rural life. Grupo Coral e Etnográfico Cantares de Évora perform “old style”, without any modern arrangements to the traditional music poems.

A series of short videos were screened, in between performances, highlighting Evora, farm life, the enthralling sheep bell makers and other aspects of the local culture.


Celina Da Piedade - Photo by Angel Romero
Celina Da Piedade – Photo by Angel Romero


One of the great artists from the region, accordionist and vocalist Celina Da Piedade appeared next, accompanying herself on accordion. She was later joined by Há Lobos sem ser na Serra musicians, who accompanied Celina on guitar, drums and vocals.

Celina is a conservatory-trained musician and specializes in music from the Alentejo region. In addition to her talent as a passionate singer, she is also a virtuoso accordionist, playing beautiful melodies inspired by the Alentejo region. She participates and leads numerous workshops and has performed abroad. She leads weekly gatherings of Cante Alentejano in Casa do Alentejo, Lisbon. Celina has participated in over 50 recordings as well as soundtracks for film, theater and dance. She is currently part of the celebrated collective TaisQuais that includes some of the biggest names in Portuguese music: Vitorino, Tim, Sebastião, Serafim, Jorge Palma, Paulo Ribeiro and João Gil. They released a critically acclaimed album titled “Os fabulosos Tais Quais”.


Há Lobos sem ser na Serra - Photo by Angel Romero
Há Lobos sem ser na Serra – Photo by Angel Romero


Há Lobos sem ser na Serra played next. They represent a new generation of cante alentejano musicians. Their sound is rooted in tradition although the arrangements take the music into exciting new directions. While the band plays, a graphic artists paints desings on a video screen.

Há Lobos sem ser na Serra use the 8-shaped guitar called viola campaniça. It’s a rare guitar from Alentejo with a peculiar mouth that nearly disappeared in the 1960s. It has unusual tunings and the band extracts unexpected sounds and some jazz elements. Band members include António Bexiga on viola campaniça; Bernardo ‘Buba’ Espinho on vocals and drum; and David Pereira on viola campaniça and vocals.


João Afonso -- Photo by Angel Romero
João Afonso – Photo by Angel Romero


One of Portugal’s most cherished singer-songwriters, João Afonso, performed accompanied by various guitars. João Afonso plays contemporary folk music and pop inspired by various Portuguese traditions. We have a João Afonso artist profile that you can read for additional information.


Luis Peixoto - Photo by Angel Romero
Luis Peixoto – Photo by Angel Romero


Two string masters participated in the event, accompanying João Afonso, playing solos and mesmerizing interplay. Luis Peixoto is a multi-instrumentalist who plays various string instruments and also mixes folk music with electronics. For this occasion he used the tiny cavaquinho, which is one of the ancestors of the ukulele.


Juan José Robles - Photo by Angel Romero
Juan José Robles – Photo by Angel Romero


Juan José Robles, from southeastern Spain, was one of the two international guests. He’s also multi-instrumentalist specialized in string instruments and the folk music from the Murcia region. He used the mandolina (mandolin), octavilla (a guitar from La Mancha) and a guitarro valenciano.


Carlos Malta - Photo courtesy of EXIB
Carlos Malta – Photo courtesy of EXIB


Carlos Malta’s flute sounds entered the theater down the center aisle. The Brazilian wind instrument master brought the sounds of South America and joined the rest of the musicians for several beautiful songs that were very familiar to the Portuguese members of the audience, who sang along.


Ovation at EXIB 2016 - Photo by Angel Romero
Ovation at EXIB 2016 – Photo by Angel Romero

The EXIB 2016 opening concert was a superb introduction to the music of Alentejo.







Related links:

Iberoamerican Music Expo (EXIB)
Celina Da Piedade
João Afonso
Luis Peixoto
Carlos Malta


Artist Profile: João Afonso

João Afonso at EXIB 2016 in Evora - Photo by Angel Romero
João Afonso at EXIB 2016 in Evora – Photo by Angel Romero

João Afonso was born in Maputo (Mozambique) on July 8, 1965, where he picked grew up listening to African urban music as well as traditional Portuguese music through his uncle, Portuguese singer Zeca Afonso.

In 1978, João moved to Portugal. In December 1994 he participated in the Maio maduro maio project along with José Mário Branco and Amélia Muge, presented in Lisbon and other cities abroad. The Maio Maduro Maio double CD was released in 1995.

João Afonso also participated in the “Janelas Verdes” and “Acoustic” albums by world music multi-instrumentalist and composer Júlio Pereira.

In 1996 João Afonso performed several concerts in Spain with singer-songwriter Luis Pastor, in which they sang each others’ songs as well as material by Zeca Afonso. They were occasionally joined by Pedro Guerra.

Missangas was João Afonso’s first solo album, released in May 1997 in Portugal; subsequently released in France through Verve / Polygram and Spain (Resistencia, 1998). In December 1997 he participated in the Voz e guitarra (voice and guitar) album and show produced by Expo 1998 in Lisbon.


João Afonso - Missangas
João Afonso – Missangas


In 1998 João Afonso participated in the collective production Novas vos trago with two songs from the historical songbook. That same year, he composed the music for the poem Paz de Santiago recorded by Spanish Singer-songwriter Luis Pastor in his album Por el mar de mi mano. And João also recorded the song Na machamba (from his album Missangas) with Canary Islander group Mestisay.

In 1999 he was a guest vocalist in the song Aquí em baixo (Azul) that appeared in the album by Spanish singer Uxía. Also, in 1999, João released his second solo album, Barco voador, that reflected his experiences traveling throughout different continents. Universal Music released the album in Spain. Zanzibar, his third solo recording, came in 2002.



The 2006 solo album Outra vida confirmed that João Afonso is one of the finest performers and songwriters of his generation in Portugal. In November 2006 João Afonso participated as a guest in the book/CD by Luis Pastor titled Nesta esquina do tempo (In this corner of time) with Jose Saramago poems set to music.


João Afonso - Outra vida
João Afonso – Outra vida


In 2014 he released “Sangue Bom” where he composed music for poems by Mia Couto and José Eduardo Agualusa.


Maio Maduro Maio, with José Mário Branco and Amélia Muge (Sony Portugal, 1995).
Missangas (Universal Music Portugal, 1997)
Barco Voador (Universal Music Portugal, 1999)
Zanzibar (Universal Music Portugal, 2002)
A arte e a música (Universal Music Portugal, 2004), compilation
Outra vida (Universal Music Portugal, 2006)
Um redondo vocábulo (2010)
Sangue Bom (2014).


Ibero-American Music Expo EXIB 2016 opens May 4 in Portugal

João Afonso
João Afonso

The 2016 edition of EXIB Música, the Ibero-American Music Expo, will open May 4 with an inaugural concert at Teatro García de Resende in Evora (Portugal).

The artists scheduled to perform include renowned Portuguese artists João Afonso, Celina Da Piedade, Há Lobos sem ser na Serra and Luis Peixoto. They will be joined by special guests Carlos Malta from Brazil and Juan José Robles from Spain.

EXIB 2016 takes place May 4-7 in Evora. The music expo and conference will feature showcases by Latin American and Iberian artists as well as conferences and trade fair.

For more details go to http://exibmusica.com/en