The Arco Choir

A group which travelled from Madeira over the weekend included 28 Singers of the Grupo Coral do Arco da Calheta. They visited the mainland at the invitation of the Junta de Freguesia Santa Joana Aveiro to perform a varied programme of choral music under the direction of Maestrina Maria João Caires.

Flying to Porto, they travelled up the west coast and visited the beautiful and historic city of Aveiro to participate in the week-long celebration of the feast day of Santa Joana.

The daughter of King Alfonso V, Princess Joana of Portugal finally achieved her lifelong ambition to become a nun having successfully acted as Regent in her father’s absence whilst she was the heir presumptive,  Subsequently, the birth of a brother allowed her to be relieved of her royal responsibilities. She died in the convent in May 1492.

A huge procession of adults and children in 15th century costumes supported by 3 bands paraded through and around the city as the celebrations in her honour began.

The Arco Coral programme of Concerts of both Sacred and secular music included pieces sung in Portuguese, English, Latin and Italian. Together with Sunday Mass sung at the 16th century Ingreja Misericordia and impromptu sessions of singing and dance, it made for a wonderfully hectic timetable of activities and hospitality.

These activities included a cruise in a traditional barco moliceiro (a colourful gondola-style boat historically used to harvest seaweed) on the ria (canals) which lead out to the lagoon whilst passing by the salt fields and ponds (an industry which dates back to 975AD), and admiring magnificent architectural examples of buildings which date from the medieval to Edwardian Art Nouveau periods, all interspersed with stunning modern designs. There is a large, vibrant University.

A morning drive along the coast  offered the chance for a walk on white sandy beaches and dunes and sight of the traditional and very stylish waterside cottages with their vibrant, striped paintwork – a tradition started by fishermen using left-over paint from their boats on their homes.

The Arco choir was formed 36 years ago. It rehearses in Arco da Calheta where it is encouraged and supported by the Junta de Freguesia. It performs a wide range of music at events, celebrations and hotels across the island, throughout the year

Enquiries from enthusiastic sopranos, contraltos, tenors and bass singers are welcome. See our Facebook page for more information