We first met the then four members of the Lacerda Quartet (Alexander Stewart, Regina Aires, Alexandre Delgado and Luís André Ferreira) at the home of Dutch sculptor Lukas van Blaaderen.
A keen fan of the Quartet in Lisbon, Lukas had invited them in the summer of 2005 to perform in his large workshop near Santa Catarina, and Peter and I also became keen fans and friends. On a different occasion, we met pianist (and Diretora Pedagógica at the Conservatório in Faro) Irene Ainstein who invited us to her home near Tavira for her annual Forty Fingers (actually, thirty-eight fingers and eight thumbs) piano concert, an informal festival of piano music with three Dutch pianist friends.
Irene shared our vision of more high class concerts in this part of the Sotavento. She has not only a suitable venue with two grand pianos and superb acoustics, but also many contacts in the world of music. There was no need for people to travel as far as Lisbon for a concert, we thought, because we could bring the musicians to the Algarve.
Irene´s house is appropriately called Quintinha da Música, and it exercises an attraction for both audience and performers. Our performers love the proximity of the audience, and they gain energy from the engagement of their listeners.
Members of the audience like the informal but professional organisation, the sea view and in spring, the almond blossom. Our style is to introduce all the music with anecdote, and to create friendships over the interval tapas. The concert series initially had only two or three concerts a year, and it now has grown to one a month.
The Lacerda Quartet has also developed into a number of different combinations: the quartet has a different viola player (Paul Wayabashi); the Duo Lacerda (Alexander Stewart and Regina Aires) whose specialty is a whirlwind tour of the History of the Violin, illustrated with snatches of live music; and the Aeternus Trio with Armenian cellist, Varoujan Bartikian, Polish pianist Lucjan Luc and of course Alex on violin.
Although these three musicians are great friends, they had never performed together as a piano trio. During the early months of 2013, however, their shared desire to explore the vast and magnificent piano trio repertoire led them to form Trio Aeternus.
Violinist Alexander Stewart graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and is now one of the Concert-Masters of the Orquestra Sinfónica Portuguesa in Lisbon. Varoujan Bartikian first performed in public at the age of 10 and joined the Gulbenkian Foundation Orchestra in 1989 (also in Lisbon) where he is now principal cello. Lucjan Luc studied at the Katowice Music Academy in Poland and has performed all over the world as soloist and accompanist; he is currently based at the Conservatory of Badajoz in Extremadura, Spain. Alexander and Lucjan met as students in Katowice in 1986 and later performed many times together in Portugal and England. Moving to Portugal they became great friends with Varoujan, who is also the Director of the Armenian Department of the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon.
On a recent visit to Istanbul, the three members of Aeternus Trio in a Greek coffee house met the Armenian-born Turkish double-bassist and composer Arda Agosyan. Together, they planned to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the births of two great Armenians, oil magnate Calouste Gulbenkian (1869-1955), and Komitas, born Soghomon Soghomonian (1869 – 1935). The Lisbon-based Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation was inaugurated in 1956 and it continues to promote arts, charity, education and science throughout the world. Komitas was an Armenian priest, musicologist, composer and arranger, who first collected Armenian (and Kurdish) folk music and is celebrated as the founder of the Armenian national school of music.
The Trio has commissioned Agosyan to write a piano trio for them. The commission will be financed equally by the Algarve History Association and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Aeturnus Trio will perform this work at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, at Quintinha da Música and in Istanbul where the performance will be broadcast live on Classical Turkish Radio.
The Armenian Department of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation has also commissioned Varoujan to arrange up to 15 of Komitas songs for piano trio. Aeturnus will record the trio and the Komitas arrangements for release on CD as part of the anniversary celebrations in 2019.
The concert series at Quintinha da Música also generates funds which we contribute to the Conservatório Regional in Faro for the benefit of young musicians.
At our last concert of the 2016/17 season on July 9, as a part of their musical education, seven young pianists from the Conservatório gave an electric performance. In consequence, Algarve History Association was able to make a donation of €700 towards the purchase of new equipment and the maintenance of existing pianos at the Conservatory. The donation was accepted with evident gratitude by Olga Maria Caetano Dias Pereira da Cruz, Secretary of the Conselho Admistrativo at the Conservatory.
The first concert in our 2017/18 series will be on Thursday, August 31 at 7 pm when Alexander Stewart and Regina Aires will guide us with gusto through the History of the Violin. The evening will consist of musical illustrations, orchestral anecdotes as well as recondite facts. A starter question is why does the horsehair in violin bows always come from the tails of stallions?
The concert will be at Boa Esperança (our house) in Morenos. Directions will be sent on booking. Tickets are €25, including drinks and tapas.
To book contact: 281 971 567
By Lynne Booker
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Lynne Booker, along with her husband Peter, founded the Algarve History Association. [email protected]