Over the months of April and May 2020, the great Madeiran performing artists have seen their income dwindle; hotels, theatres and other public spaces where they used to perform were forced to close due to the corona pandemic. No tourists and closed venues meant their work was put on hold. They have closed ranks and started the Madeira Quarantine Sessions. Every night at 7 PM we had a different concert, introducing us to new artists and making us enjoy the ones we already knew. Some of my readers won’t be surprised that our favourite Fado artists Pedro Marques (guitar) and his wife Sofia Ferreira were among them. With very little means, financially as well as technically, all tried to offer us a unique series of concerts. It was their only way to reconnect with their audiences, and, as we experienced, getting the attention of a new audience. Now that Madeira is gradually returning to some normalcy, the Quarantine Sessions have ended. But the Madeiran Ministry of Tourism and Culture has invited a number of iconic artists to perform in some iconic places of Madeira.
Under much better circumstances their performances have been registered and published on Youtube. I have made a playlist of these special ‘visitas cantadas’ or ‘singing visits’ to some of the nicest cultural places of interest on the island. The playlist is located at the bottom of this article. I have linked the artists to their Youtube channel if they have one, so, if there is one you like particularly, you can hear more of them. Enjoy the lovely voices and the iconic places of Madeira. And don’t forget to go and see them live when next you visit the island.
Marta Rodrigues at John dos Passos
Marta Rodrigues sings at the John dos Passos Cultural Centre in the lovely Ponta do Sol on Madeira’s south coast. This cultural centre was named after the famous American author of Portuguese descent. It is located in the centre of lovely Ponta do Sol.
Marta has a fun, jazzy way of performing. Her stage presence is a delight to watch!
Tiago Sena Silva at the Solar do Aposento
Solar do Aposento is the setting chosen for Tiago Sena Silva. It is one of the most iconic places in Madeira’s North. The name of the place could best be translated as ‘Manor of Retreat. It is situated in Ponta Delgada and served as a retreat from the summer heat of Funchal, until the last owner donated it to the Island government to become a museum, preserving her art collection and documenting the way of life (of the Madeiran aristocracy) of the 19th century.
Tiago has this delightful, laid back way of singing, reminding of lazy Brasilean sambas. He has quickly become one of our favourites in the Quarantine Sessions and is doubtlessly one of Madeira’s most iconic voices.
Diana Duarte at the Museu da Quinta das Cruzes
This Museum is situated in Funchal and houses a wide collection of jewellery, art, ceramics, furniture and other fine art. It is one of the older museums on Madeira and was based on the donation by goldsmith César Filipe Gomes, followed by the legacy of the collector João Wetzler
Diana is a fun singer and plays the cavaquinho, the instrument that the Madeirans brought to Hawaii, where it became famous as the Ukulele.
Sofia Ferreira and Pedro Marques at the Museu de Fotografía.
The Photography Museum of Madeira is housed in the former studio of engraver and photographer Vicente Gomes da Silva. Apart from photography and film material, the museum houses a collection of cameras and other photography-related devices. A beautiful setting for Pedro and Sofia’s fantastic music.
Sofia Ferreira and Pedro Marques are among our absolute favourites. They are members of the Sabor a Fado family and must be counted among the best performers of Fado music, which is now a world heritage. Although Fado was born on the mainland, the Fado scene of Madeira is lively and of very high quality. With virtuous Pedro playing the Guitarra Portuguesa, Sofia sings two über-classics.
Miguel Pires at the Universo de Memórias
The Universo de Memórias Joao Carlos Abreu is just that: the universe of Abreu’s memories. Throughout his life, he made numerous trips, and lived in various European cities like Rome and where he purchased items and memorabilia that in his words: linked to my forty years of service in tourism, surrounded by people and countries that enriched me. Note that Mr. Abreu, poet, writer, politician, was Madeira’s Minister of tourism for many years.
Vânia Baganha at the Quinta Magnólia
The beautiful Quinta Magnolia is situated near the Funchal Lido area and offers a restaurant and exhibition spaces in the main house and stunning gardens with tennis courts and a children’s playground.
The crystal voice of Vânia Baganha and her interpretation of Mariza’s ‘Quem Me Dera’ were a big surprise.
Vânia Fernandes at Mudas
Mudas Centre of Contemporary Art. A stunning contemporary building, created by architect Paulo David, that has been integrated into the island’s geography by the choice of materials and by the way it’s structure follows the island’s steep slopes. It is situated in Calheta, the council where our house is situated. The Museum of Contemporary Art was moved here in October 2015, from the São Tiago Fortress in Funchal, that was too humid and could not offer the required conditions to preserve works of art.
Lidiane Duailibi at Solar São Cristóvão
A beautiful 17th century Manor in Machico, that has been transformed into a museum depicting 600 years of history and people of the town of Machico. Beautiful though it may be, the town has not seen fit to document this doubtlessly iconic place better than just some lines in Portuguese in the town’s website.
Lidiane Duailibi often performs with ‘Bossa Livre” and her music has a distinct Brasilean sound.
Cristina Barbosa at the Museu Etnográfico
The Madeira Ethnographic Museum in Ribeira Brava is housed in a building that belonged to the Santa Clara Convent. in the seventeenth century. Later, the building was used as a sugar cane mill, where ‘aguardente’, the famous Madeira rum, was produced. Today, the Museum has a permanent exhibition area where you can learn and see some of the elements of the traditional Madeiran culture. The fishing, the wine production, cereals, flax, transport and traditional commerce are some of the topics documented in this museum.
Cristina Barbosa was already performing at a very young age. In the early 80s, she won the Madeira Children’s Song Festival, and she never stopped since. Today, she often performs in hotels and the Funchal casino, sometimes with the Madeira Big Band.
Sofia Almeida at the Casa Museu Frederico de Freitas
The Museum owes its name to Dr Frederico de Freitas, a lawyer, notary and collector from Madeira. Frederico de Freitas accumulated, during his 40-year stay at the house, a set of works of art, later bequeathed to the Autonomous Region of Madeira.
Frederico de Freitas first collected objects related to Madeira, after which he extended his collection to pieces of sculpture, painting, furniture, ceramics, engraving, of national and foreign origin.
Student at the Funchal ‘conservatório’, Sofia Almeida already won the Madeira a Cantar contest in 2019. Het interpretation of “We’ll meet again” is a worthy final song in this playlist.
So switch on your sound, sit back, relax, play the Youtube playlist – in full screen for the best experience – and enjoy the music and the views!
Performing artists continue to have great difficulties. Only one way to help them. And to organise a wonderful afternoon with friends. We invited some of our favourites to perform for us. Have a look for yourself!