“The Portuguese guitar is the soul of Portugal” says Ângelo Freire, emphasizing each of the words with depth. “It's the Portuguese soul,” Luís Guerreiro insists to the act as if he were giving that reply that the instrument constantly offers to the fadista on stage. Both, luxury companions of great singers like Mariza or Carminho, are today two of the best interpreters of that essential counterpoint of fado. Together and without a fadista they will inaugurate the Fado Festival tonight at the Center Artesà Tradicionàrius, which reaches its sixth edition in Barcelona.
Becoming the protagonist of this year's contest, the Portuguese guitar “also symbolizes the culture of a people and, therefore, its emotional charge is very high,” explains Guerreiro, who began playing the instrument when he was barely nine years old. “It's my life,” he confesses before remembering the countless hours he has spent with her.
Freire debuted in the world of fado as a singer also at a very young age, when he was about six years old, although he soon decided to make the strings of the Portuguese guitar vibrate instead of the vocal ones. “I fell in love with the instrument,” he admits. And his passion remains intact, both for the guitar and for fado. “It is an urban song that comes from the town and that has evolved as the city itself has evolved,” he says. Only in this way has it been possible for the genre to enjoy excellent health for years with new generations of singers and musicians who often play with a wide range of influences, from jazz to electronic music.
With the future of the genre assured, now the time has come to reclaim the role of the Portuguese guitar. And not only within fado. “There is a lot of work to do in this sense, remember that it has only recently been taught academically, before you had to go learn to play it in fado houses or with a private teacher,” laments Guerreiro. “It is an instrument with great potential and very versatile whose limit is only in the musician,” he adds.
Both agree: the Portuguese guitar, capable of participating in other styles such as jazz or classical music, must become more internationalized and gain prominence. “Part of the fault is ours because we limit ourselves to accompanying the fadistas and delegate the instrument to a second place,” they acknowledge. Tonight, however, the Portuguese guitar will play in the foreground and with its own repertoire, some very fado guitars accompanied by Spanish guitar and bass.
The festival will offer a second concert on Sunday with fado singer Raquel Tavares, one of the new voices of fado who will reappear after a time away from the stage at Paral·lel 62 alongside Ângelo Freire. The program is completed with more activities at the Tradicionàrius, such as a master class by Freire himself this Saturday or the screening of the film Guitarras à Portuguesa by Ivan Dias.