Hub of the Centre Européen de Musique launched in Portugal thanks to strong alliance between civil society organisations and 7 municipalities

The first hub of the Centre Européen de Musique (CEM) – an innovative European cultural, pedagogical and scientific project based in Bougival near Paris, of which Europa Nostra is a partner – was launched in Portugal on 25 October. The event took place in the stunning setting of the Library of the National Palace of Mafra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The CEM Portugal has been made possible thanks to a strong alliance between the Centre Européen de Musique, led by its President Jorge Chaminé, and 7 municipalities across Portugal, namely Braga, Faro, Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, Grândola, Lisboa, Mafra and Porto. The event was hosted by the Mayor of Mafra, Hélder Sousa Silva, and had the participation of the Secretary General of Europa Nostra, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović.

The Centre Européen de Musique in Portugal will be based in Mafra, given the historical relationship between the town and music, which dates back to the construction of the Royal Building of Mafra (Palace, Basilica, Convent, Cerco Garden and Tapada). The Basilica of Mafra features the world’s largest set of 18th-century carillons (which were included on the 7 Most Endangered list in 2014 and were fully restored in 2020) as well as the only set of six historical organs designed for simultaneous use (whose restoration was awarded a European Heritage Award / Europa Nostra Award in 2012). Mafra will also host the National Museum of Mafra, the Music Sciences Centre of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa and the National Sound Archive, thus strengthening the connection of the town with music.

Although based in Mafra, the activities and events organised by CEM Portugal will take place across the country. The CEM Portugal has been developed in collaboration with Terrafoundation, a Portuguese cultural platform based in Lisbon.

Jorge Chaminé spoke about the Centre Européen de Musique based in Bougival and its hub in Portugal. “The CEM celebrates music as a universal language at the heart of Europe’s identity and humanistic values. After 23 years of dedication to this holistic project based in Bougival, it is very moving to launch the CEM in my native country. I would like to thank the alliance of cities that – in an exemplary and unique way in Europe – have come together to implement the CEM Portugal,” he stated.

Following the introductory remarks by the Director of the National Palace of Mafra, Sérgio Gorjão, and the Mayor of Mafra, Hélder Sousa Silva, the Artistic Director of Terrafoundation, Guta Moura Guedes, and the Portuguese Secretary of State for Culture, Isabel Cordeiro, addressed the audience.

Launch of Centre Européen de Musique in Portugal

The Secretary General of Europa Nostra, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, made the concluding remarks. “We need the power of music to once again learn how to live together in Europe and in the world. With this initiative, Portugal has shown us the way. You, the Mayors of seven municipalities, under the leadership of Jorge Chaminé, a great European born in the Portuguese city of Porto, have demonstrated through the CEM Portugal your close connection with a Europe of culture and a Europe of values. We, at Europa Nostra, hope that many others will follow your example.”

Launch of the Centre Européen de Musique in Portugal

The Secretary General of Europa Nostra paid tribute to Jorge Chaminé for his remarkable work in promoting European spirit and identity through classical music, for which he had received the Helena Vaz da Silva European Award for Raising Public Awareness on Cultural Heritage 2023 in Lisbon on 23 October. This prestigious European award was established in 2013 by the Centro Nacional de Cultura in cooperation with Europa Nostra and the Clube Português de Imprensa. Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović acknowledged the pivotal role of the Centre Européen de Musique as the coordinator of music-related activities within the European Heritage Hub, an EU-funded pilot project formed by a consortium of 21 partners led by Europa Nostra to connect heritage stakeholders and initiatives across Europe.

Launch of the Centre Européen de Musique in Portugal

Last but not least, the Secretary General of Europa Nostra briefly presented the EIB publication ‘Saving the past – Shaping the future’ which features the beautifully restored Carillons of the Mafra National Palace on its cover, one of the success stories of the 7 Most Endangered programme run by Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank (EIB) Institute. After 20 years of silence and a complex restoration process, the Carillons of the Mafra National Palace were played during a memorable inaugural concert that assembled over 6,000 people in the square in front of the Palace on 2 February 2020. Since then, over 200 concerts of the world’s largest set of 18th-century carillon bells have been performed.

Launch of Centre Européen de Musique in Portugal

The launch event of the CEM Portugal featured a musical performance entitled “Passarola | Music Variations on the Past and the Future K.87″ by Pedro Emanuel Pereira, Rui Gato and Vítor Joaquim. Composed from Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonata K.87, Passarola is the first research and cultural creation project that is part of Via Scarlatti, a collaboration between CEM and Terrafoundation. It symbolises the cross point between culture and science, revealing the power of innovation and the dynamic relationship between the past, the present and the future.

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