Christopher Bochmann and President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa

British composer/ conductor receives ‘gong’ from President Marcelo

Christopher Bochmann visited Lagos last year for a summer course, and “could be back” in the Algarve this August

Composer/ conductor and former professor of Music at Évora University Christopher Bochmann has been honoured by President Marcelo following 43 years teaching and performing music in Portugal.

He told the university’s online magazine: “It is a special honour to be recognised not only by one’s country of origin (he received an OBE in 2005 from Queen Elizabeth II), but also by one’s country of adoption.

Photo: Rui Ochoa/Presidência da República

“For me, the order of Infante D. Henrique (Henry the Navigator) has an even more special meaning, because he was the son of an Englishwoman” (Henry the Navigator’s mother was Philippa of Lancaster, sister of Henry IV).

In fact this wasn’t the first Portuguese honour for the musician who began teaching in Portugal in 1980 – according to his website, he was awarded a Medal of Cultural Merit by the Ministry of Culture in 2004. 

But it has definitely been the most ‘prestigious’ award so far; as well as something of a ‘surprise’.

Wife Celia, herself an actress (both in English and Portuguese), told us the news came “all most sudden, only a few days notice – and even when we walked in there (the picadeiro attached to Belém Palace) we still didn’t know what the award was going to be! But all rather wonderful!”

Photo: Rui Ochoa/Presidência da República

And wonderful has been the response of generations of musicians who have benefitted from Christopher Bochmann’s teaching and mentorship.

Praise over social media has come from numerous names in the national music scene, and those further afield.

Lagos academy/ Portimão Conservatory professor of piano Luís Lopo wrote: “It has been an enormous privilege to work with you for the last 10 years”; while in UK, former composer-in-residence at Royal Holloway University Miguel Diniz said “It is a privilege to be part of the enormous group of musicians that passed through your teachings. Thank you very much for the incredibly important role that you have had in what is my life today. Bravo!”

The University of Évora meantime, where Christopher Bochmann was director of the School of Arts for two mandates (from 2009-2017) acknowledges that he is one of the “unavoidable names in the recent history of the university, influencing, with his dedication, commitment and vision, a new generation of musicians”. 

Dean Hermínia Vasconcelos Vilar, said in a statement: “Congratulations Professor Bochmann for this recognition that ennobles also the name of the University of Évora”.

For young musicians in the Algarve who took part in last summer’s ‘estágio’ with Christopher Bochmann, the news is that the Portuguese Youth Symphony Orchestra (OSJ) could be returning to the region for a second estágio, this time with concerts in different locations.

Professor Bochmann has been especially active in the fields of youth orchestras and choirs (indeed he started his musical career singing in the choir of St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle). He has been resident conductor of the OSJ since 1984, with which he has recorded several CDs of his own music

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