Coimbra fado is a unique and powerful style of music and song. Unlike Lisbon fado, which is sung by mainly women, the voices of Coimbra fado are exclusively male and most belong to current or former students of Coimbra’s prestigious university. The university connection is reinforced by the singers and the accompanying guitarists wearing the traditional black capes that are synonymous with student life.
Coimbra’s students have been in the habit of singing in the city streets since the 16th century, their voices breaking the silence of the night with serenades and ballads. Fado became popular in Lisbon in the 19th century and was brought to Coimbra by the students who came to study here. This new form of music was quickly adopted and adapted in the city. Over time, the core elements of classical guitar, Portuguese guitar and vocals evolved into a different version of fado which incorporates traditional musical influences introduced by students from various regions of Portugal.
The “Fado Ao Centro” concert was created with the explicit intention to continue and to get deeper into this 170th year old musical tradition, essentially by presenting new self-authored songs and renew the traditional repertoire. Thus, the aim is to develop empathy with the audience, by reaching into traditional imagery, while at the same time framing the novel refreshing approaches found within the current music scene of Coimbra and Portugal.
“Fado ao Centro” can be translated as “fado in the centre” or “fado to the centre”. The group like to think of it as “fado to the core” – of their country, their city and themselves. Their love of fado is so strong that they want to share it with others, be they fellow musicians and academics, local fans who enjoy allowing themselves to be transported by the emotions aroused by their songs, or curious spectators who may never even have heard of Coimbra fado.
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