The president of the ABA - Alcobaça Band Arts Association, Rui Morais has said the theme of this edition of Cistermúsica - Alcobaça Music Festival, is “very special" and aims to correct "the injustice that women have suffered over the centuries, where they have always been left behind, both in terms of composition and interpretation".

Highlighting female composers from various historical periods

Female music takes centre stage as the festival highlights the contributions of female composers and instrumentalists throughout history.

Over the course of a month, from Wednesday to Sunday, attendees will have the opportunity to experience the works of esteemed composers such as Inês Badalo, Maria de Lourdes Martins, Clara Schumann, Maddalena Casulana, Barbara Strozzi, Fanny Mendelsson and Cécile Chaminade, among others.

Two Portuguese ensembles will focus heavily on the theme of female musicians and in the programmes they bring to the Festival: Melleo Harmonia Antigua and Ensemble Vocal Aura. One will showcase female music from the baroque period, and the other will focus on the romantic period, eliciting names such as Clara Schumann and Fanny Mendelssohn.

Partnerships with other festivals

André Cunha Leal, the artistic directed has highlighted Cistermúsica´s “synergy with other festivals”, which will be reflected in performances such as the concert by the Orquestra Metropolitana de Lisboa (July 1st), which will be in partnership with the Espinho International Music Festival, and the concert by the Jovem Orquestra Portuguesa, in partnership with the Festival das Artes QuebraJazz, which will result in a concert with Andreï Korobeinikov on the piano (July 23).

Commemorating the artistry of Sergei Rachmaninov

Cistermúsica will also celebrate 150 years of the Russian composer, pianist, and conductor Sergei Rachmaninov, and there will be a weekend dedicated to celebrating his musical works.

There will be a recital scheduled for 20 July by Jill Lawson (Portugal) and Eleonora Karpukhova (Russia), which André Cunha Leal highlighted will “recover an old duo to bring to Cistermúsica an absolutely mesmerising repertoire for two pianos”, and is set to be an enchanting performance.

On July 22, Pavel Gomziakov, Tatiana Samouil and Andrei Korobeinikov will come together in a violin, cello and piano recital, another of the moments which have been listed as highlights today by the artistic director.

Bringing together musicians from different countries

Alongside its main program, Cistermúsica will feature additional programmatic lines such as "Outros Mundos" (Other Worlds), "Júnior e Familias" (Youth and Families), "Redes" (Networks), and "Rota de Cister" (Cister Route). These initiatives will bring musicians from 13 different countries to venues including the Monastery of Alcobaça and five parishes within the municipality. Moreover, performances will extend to cities like Lisbon, Arouca, Évora, and Porto de Mós.

This year's festival introduces a new element with free jazz concerts every Saturday, providing a diversified musical experience across various venues.

Affordability of tickets has been key consideration

With its motto "a classic for everyone," the festival aims to ensure affordability, with ticket prices ranging from 6 to 20 euros. Rui Morais anticipates surpassing last year's audience of 10 000 spectators.

The festival will finish with a closing concert on July 30th, featuring the local band The Gift, from Alcobaça, at the Cloister of Rachadouro, which promises to be a truly memorable choral performance.

Since its inception in 1992, the Alcobaça Music Festival has been organised by Banda de Alcobaça, with the support of the local authority and the General Directorate of Arts.

This year, the festival boasts a budget of €550 000, with 50% of the funding provided by sponsors, patrons, and ticket sales.