The MMO | Madeira Mandolin Orchestra® was founded on February 18th, 1913 in the parish of São Roque (Funchal).
Composed by 30 musicians, aged between 13 and 46 years, the Orchestra is recognized as the oldest and youngest Mandolin Orchestra in Europe due to the age of its foundation and the ages of its performers. A distinction of relevance in a region of excellence within the European community.
Annually, the Orchestra performs about forty concerts distributed in the main concert halls of Madeira. The concerts are included in the classical music programs of the Weekly Concerts and the Special Concerts, which have been developed for the past 25 years. Currently, the MMO | Madeira Mandolin Orchestra® has already performed around 500 concerts, both nationally and internationally.
A Centennial History marked by Music
Belonging to the Association Recreio Musical União da Mocidade, its foundation aimed to involve and captivate the local youth for a cultural and musical project. In its centenary history, MMO | Madeira Mandolin Orchestra® went through two important phases.
The first phase took place in the mid-1920s, during the time when Ernesto Serrão was its conductor. Ernesto Baptista Serrão, a career military man, also worked as a musician and composer. It was recognized, with all the merit, the work he developed in the area of Madeiran music, producing about a hundred musical works and more than three hundred arrangements. His spontaneous, bohemian, romantic character and his troubadour spirit recovered common points with Wagner, one of his idols.
In fact, it was Ernesto Serrão’s commitment and creativity that contributed to the origin of new musical compositions and that were being disseminated to the sound of mandolins. With Ernesto Serrão, the performers of the Tuna do Recreio Musical União da Mocidade, as they were known at the time, stopped playing by ear to start playing by staff, following the solfeggio classes that this master taught them.
The second phase took place from the 1970s onwards when Tuna resurfaced, after some years of inactivity. This resurgence had two relevant names: conductor Elmano Gomes (between 1978 and 1980) and conductor João Eurico Martins (from 1989).
Both had a leading role in the development of the areas of openness to female elements, in betting on training through music schools and in internationalization. However, it was with maestro Eurico Martins that two of these areas were promoted at the highest level and that resulted in an enviable reputation of MMO | Madeira Mandolin Orchestra®.
The two areas that made enormous progress under the baton of Eurico Martins were: training, through free mandolin and viola classes, and which became the solid basis for the renewal and continuous evolution of the Orchestra, thus allowing to improve the quality and the dynamics of the workforce; and internationalization, which came to culminate the need to publicize the work developed in the Region and, whenever possible, take this same work to national and international stages.
The first international trip was made in 1994, through participation in the V International Orchestra Festival “FRANCISCO TÁRREGA” in Valencia (Spain). Also noteworthy are the two tours in England in 2002 and 2009, passing through places such as The Playhouse Theater (Weston Super Mare), Wells Cathedral (Wells), Salisbury Cathedral (Salibury), Portsmouth Cathedral (Portsmouth), St. Georges Chapel (Windsor) , at St. Paul’s Church (London), Petersfield and Liss United Reformed Church, at Holy Trinity Huddersfield (Huddersfield), at The Grand Venue (Clitheroe), The Brangwyn (Swansea), Lichfield Garrick (Lichfield), The Forum (Bath) and St. George’s Church (Bristol). In addition to these, trips were also made to Austria and France.
Within Portuguese territory, the following stand out, among others: in 2005, in the celebrations of the 500 Years of the Jerónimos Monastery (Lisbon); in 2009, at the “Festival ao Largo” at the Teatro Nacional São Carlos (Lisbon) with the participation of Maestro / Composer Jorge Salgueiro and Tenor Carlos Guilherme (the great friend of the Orchestra); and in 2011 in the celebration of Ten Years Carlos Guilherme’s career at Centro Cultural de Belém (Lisbon).
More recently, in 2018, MMO | Madeira Mandolin Orchestra® participated in the “Tasting Madeira” event at the European Parliament (Brussels).
On the MMO | Madeira Mandolin Orchestra® curriculum, we can highlight the most varied special participations of renowned singers and conductors in the concerts, a practice still in use today and which the Orchestra values. In fact, the Orchestra proved to be a training that allowed to show some of the new talents in Madeira.
In addition to Portuguese tenor Carlos Guilherme, a friend of the Orchestra, we can also highlight names such as soprano Elizabete Matos, conductor João Paulo Santos, soprano Cláudia Sousa, baritone João Merino, fado singer António Pinto Basto, singer Diana Quintal, soprano Cláudia Sardinha, conductor Armando Vidal, singer Telmo Miranda, singer Micaela Abreu, singer Vânia Fernandes and singer Madalena Vieira.
The MMO | Madeira Mandolin Orchestra® has already edited 5 CDs, 2 DVDs and 1 Book with CD and has two awards: from the Regional Government of Madeira, the Gold Medal, and from the Presidency of the Republic, the title of Honorary Member of the Order of Merit.
Maestro Eurico Martins remained at the head of the Orchestra’s destinies until 2014, the year of his death. During the years that he was the conductor of this formation, he showed dedication and perseverance in the achievement of objectives in favor of “his” Orchestra.
The conditions for the continuation of his legacy had been created and, as it happened when the transition of conductor Elmano Gomes to conductor Eurico Martins, the same happened when the Orchestra was taken over by the new generation, a generation marked by João André Martins, the your child, thus allowing a new story to be built.
Classical Music, to the sound of the Mandolins
Annually, MMO | Madeira Mandolin Orchestra® is organized into two types of Concerts: Weekly and Special. The MMO | Madeira Mandolin Orchestra® Weekly Concerts are marked by a lighter traditional program of music pieces, called “Light Classic”, and the Special Concerts, also featuring a “Light Classic” music program, but more prolonged, occur in the celebration of dates commemorative.
In these Special Concerts we list those that are traditionally part of an artistic season of the Orchestra, namely the Special Concerts: the Wine Festival, World Tourism Day, World Music Day, New Year, the Association / Orchestra’s Anniversary , Flower Festival, Carnival and Maestro Eurico Martins’ Birthday.
This is a program that has been successfully developed over the past 25 years, becoming a proposal and an attentive, ambitious and thoughtful artistic opportunity, with an integrated and integral design.
Its organization addresses a unique interpretation of the great works of musical literature by composers and creators such as Kètèlbey, Vivaldi, Ponchieli, Strauss, among others, combining the sound of the mandolins of each of the performers of the young and dedicated musicians of the Orchestra and the lyrical voices of the recognized guests of the Orchestra.
This program makes this orchestra the only mandolin orchestra in Madeira with a high level of artistic programming throughout the year.