University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Faculty of Music Colloquia > The Politics and Aesthetics of Choral Singing in Alentejo, Portugal

The Politics and Aesthetics of Choral Singing in Alentejo, Portugal

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  • UserSalwa El-Shawan Castelo-Branco - Instituto de Etnomusicologia – Centro de Estudos em Música e Dança, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal
  • ClockFriday 06 March 2015, 17:00-18:30
  • HouseRecital Room, Faculty of Music.

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This presentation discusses the ideological and political underpinnings of the patrimonialization of the repertoire and performance model of a polyphonic genre named cante in southern Alentejo (Portugal) and their impact on its aesthetics and meaning. Taking a diachronic perspective, it will briefly examine the ideologies, policies, and performance models that contributed to configuring and projecting two-part singing by choral groups as the predominant musical style in the region and as a signifier of its identity. It will also examine the process of folklorization implemented by the totalitarian regime that ruled Portugal from 1933 up to 1974 and its appropriation and resignification on the local level following the establishment of democracy in 1974. The talk will end with a few thoughts on the process leading to cante’s inscription in UNESCO ’s representative list of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the need to study its impact within the framework of current multidisciplinary critical debates on UNESCO ’s ICH convention and heritage as cultural practice.

Salwa EL-Shawan Castelo-Branco. Professor of Ethnomusicology, Director of the Instituto de Etnomusicologia – Centro de Estudos em Música e Dança, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal and President of the International Council for Traditional Music. She received her doctorate from Columbia University, taught at New York University (1979-1982), and was visiting professor at Columbia University, Princeton University and Chicago University. Carried out field research in Portugal, Egypt and Oman resulting in publications on: cultural politics, musical nationalism, identity, music media, modernity and music and conflict. Recent publications include: “The Politics of Music Categorization in Portugal” in Philip Bohlman (ed.) The Cambridge History of World Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2013); Enciclopédia da Música em Portugal no Século XX (4 vols) (ed.). Lisboa: Círculo de Leitores/Temas e Debates (2010); Music and Conflict. (co-editor with John O’Connell and author of the Epilogue), Urbana: Illinois University Press (2010); Traditional Arts in Southern Arabia: Music and Society in Sohar, Sultante of Oman (with Dieter Christensen). Berlin: VWB Verlag für Wissenschaft und Bildung (2009). Past academic responsibilities and awards include: Vice President of the Society for Ethnomusicology (2007 – 2009) and of the International Council for Traditional Music (1997-2001 and 2009-2013); Vice Chancellor of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa (2007-2009). Recipient of the Glarean Award for music research of the Swiss Musicological Society (2013), the Gold & Silver Medals for Cultural merit of the City Halls of Lisbon and Cascais, respectively (2012 & 2007), and the Pro-Author Award of the Portuguese Author’s Society (2010).

This talk is part of the Faculty of Music Colloquia series.

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