The end of the Portuguese dictatorship is definitely a good XX reason to celebrate at the Wassermusik festival.
“The music of the lusophone world is a
mosaic of styles.” Tradition, fate, and revolution: Solveig Steinhardt dives into the histories and melodies of the Portuguese-speaking world at the Wassermusik festival.
Lisbon, 1974: a military coup and a popular campaign of civil resistance overthrows the authoritarian Estado Novo regime. The Portuguese dictatorship falls, and Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, and São Tomé and Príncipe are liberated from colonial rule. Throughout the Carnation Revolution, as the event would come to be known, Rádio Clube Português broadcast the pro-revolt songs of singers like Paulo de Carvalho and Zeca Alfonso.
This month, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s annual Wassermusik festival is taking the 40th anniversary of the end of the Portuguese dictatorship as an excuse to take a deeper look at music from the Portuguese-speaking world. From Portugal’s melancholy fado tradition and Brazil’s dances and romances to Cape Verdean nostalgic morna and Africa’s voices of revolution and independence, the music of the Portuguese-speaking, or lusophone, world is a mosaic of different styles and genres, the result of a multifaceted history.
Taking place on the rooftop of the oystershaped HKW building, Wassermusik will include old legends like Portuguese singer-songwriter Fausto Bordalo Dias (1 Aug), who has his musical roots in colonial Angola, contemporary stars like Maria de Medeiros (5 Aug), as well as various groups that provided the soundtrack for their countries’ newly won independence; the São Tomé and Príncipe Conjunto África Negra (2 Aug), for example, produced many politically-charged songs in the 1980s, while the songs of Angolan singer Bonga (9 Aug) accompanied his country’s recent history during and after his exile. A highlight of the festival will be the Conjunto Angola 70, whose “hypnotically grooving songs of timeless beauty,” as they have been described, were written and recorded in the late 1970s against the backdrop of the country’s civil war and feature the now-rare dikanza percussion instrument (16 Aug). Check out the website (www.hkw.de) for a program, which also includes nightly film screenings.