Association of the Friends of the Madeira Music Conservatory

The Association was founded on June 25, 1993, and among its founding members were the then Regional Secretary for Culture, João Carlos Abreu, the then director of the Regional Direction for Cultural Affairs (DRAC) Manuela Aranha, and the then Director of the Music Conservatory, Inês Clode. Other founding members include Mr. Ian Fraser, Dr. John Ranalow, Mr. Rui Sá, Dr. Johnny Bjelkaroy and Prof. Pedro Zamora.

One of the first goals of the Association was to fill the existing void in the Region’s cultural life, by presenting concerts with some regularity. However, since the beginning, there was another, not less important objective, of promoting the interest and the study of music, by supporting young and talented music students. The first concert of the Association took place on December 19, 1993, in the Cine Casino, with the participation of the Madeira Chamber Orchestra and therefore it was symbolic and appropriate that the entity into which it transformed, Madeira Classical Orchestra, participated in the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the Association through Madeira Camerata, and in the concerts of the 20th and 25th anniversaries with the Orchestra itself.

The Association’s first Managing and Artistic Director was Prof. Pedro Zamora. Most of the present team of collaborators began their work at the end of 1997 and have been continuously active since. In May of 2006, the Association was declared an Institution of Public Utility, by the Regional Government.

Over the years, the Association has signed various protocols and contracts of cultural development with the Regional Government, and these represent a significant sign of confidence in the Association’s programming excellence and its contribution to the Regional cultural panorama. In 2011, in another sign of confidence, the Association was entrusted by the Regional Direction for Cultura, to conduct and supervise the whole process of restoration of the Bechstein grand piano belonging to Direction, completely remodelled in a specialized company in England.

The AACMM is a voluntary non-profit organization and many members with an official function in it also participate actively in promoting its concerts. It must be emphasised that any profit obtained from the Association’s activities is dedicated exclusively to the support of young talented musicians in the Region. Thus, support of the concerts organized by the Association, be it by being a patron or donating, translates into the support of Madeira’s youth in the process of spiritual growth and forming of a richer and more sensitive personality, and also into direct help for the broadening of its educational opportunities.

So far, the Association has organised 298 concerts. An important part of the programming is our wish to provide the incentive to young Madeiran musicians to make the first “serious” appearance onstage, as well as give the opportunity to resident musicians, who continue to confirm their high level in chamber music ensembles. As regards the artistic quality of the concerts, suffice it to mention some of the illustrious names of the European and world music panorama that the Association had the pleasure to present in Madeira during its existence: the pianists Peter Donohoe, Pascal Rogé, Sequeira Costa, Artur Pizarro, Dmytro Choni, Vitaly Samoshko, Leonel Morales Alonso, Victorino d’Almeida, Boris Petrushanski, Peter Katin, Martino Tirimo, Julian Jacobson, Vincenzo Balzani, Leonid Brumberg, Naum Shtarkman, Martina Filjak, Giovanni Umberto Battel, Philip Martin and Hugh Tinney; the violinists Ilya Grubert, Grigori Zhislin, Zakhar Bron, Anatoli Melnikov, Alessandro Perpich and Kyrylo Stetsenko, the flautists István Matuz, Zoltán Gyöngyössy, and Luís Meireles, the singers Chiara Isotton, Marie McLaughlin and Margarita Elia, the hornist Radovan Vlatković, the trombonist Kiril Ribarski, the tubist Sérgio Carolino, the guitarists Alirio Diaz and Dejan Ivanović, Zagreb Guitar Trio and the Serbian Accordion Trio.

The Association has also presented several unique projects: in the 2004/2005, the integral Beethoven piano sonatas cycle, interpreted by Artur Pizarro, in 2006, a four-concert cycle with some of Mozart’s best known piano works, interpreted by Martino Tirimo, in 2008 the integral Beethoven violin sonatas cycle, by João Pedro Cunha and António Rosado, and in 2010/2011 season, the integral Chopin piano works cycle in nine concerts, again by Artur Pizarro. In 2011, Madeira Liszt Festival and in 2014, Madeira Rachmaninov Festival, were also among the highlights of the regional concert season. In 2014, the integral cycle of Beethoven’s cello sonatas was presented by Luís Andrade and Robert Andres.

In November of 2015, the first Madeira PianoFest took place, with five concerts of music for two pianos and eight hands on two pianos, while the 2016 PianoFest presented five concerts for piano four hands and two pianos. In 2017, its programming included two solo recitals, one four-hand recital and two two-piano recitals. The next PianoFest brought three recitals, one four-hand recital and one two-piano recital. The 5th PianoFest, in 2019, included two recitals, one concerto concert, one four-hand recital and one two-piano recital.

The constant and intense collaboration with the Music Conservatory was recognized and formalized through a collaboration protocol, signed in January 2006 with the Regional Education Secretary, through which the Association donated to the Conservatory a unique collection of over 8000 CDs, 2000 LPs, hundreds of VHSs and DVDs, and various related equipment. This collection belonged originally to one of the Association’s founder members, Dr. John Ranalow, in whose honour the multimedia library of the Conservatory was named “Dr. John V. A. Ranalow Memorial Multimedia Library”. In 2019, another collaboration protocol was signed directly with the Conservatory – School of Arts of Madeira.

The Associations is always open to helping young students participate in masterclasses on the Continent and abroad and in instrument purchases. During the past decade it allocated more than 20.000€ in scholarships and financial help. The Association is proud to have helped some of the most talented musicians this Region has produced, some getting ready to leave and continue their studies elsewhere, some currently studying and some who have already finished their studies and, in many cases, returned to the Region.

The objectives of the Association shall remain as follows: providing opportunities for young talented musicians in the Region, contributing to improving the level of the culture in the Region and the popularization of the musical culture.