In this choir, friends of different nationalities come together to sing and enchant 

Rehearsals take place on Thursdays, between 18:30 and 20:30

Photo: Mariana Carriço | Sul Informação

A way to pass the time, occupy their minds and apply their taste for singing. These are the characteristics that lead around two dozen people, of different nationalities and ages, to gather every Thursday at the Museu do Traje de São Brás de Alportel. 

This is the Chorus of the Friends of the Museum of São Brás de Alportel, founded by Walter Sulzer, on March 23, 2006, currently coordinated by maestro António de Jesus.

With a vast career in the field, having been co-founder of the Coral Ossónoba Group, it was in 2015 that, after learning that there was a need to fill the vacancy of conductor in the Coro dos Amigos, António de Jesus applied, auditioned with the own choir and ended up being chosen.

“They saw if they liked working with me or not and ended up choosing me. This is a different choir, among other things, because it is made up mostly of foreigners, at the moment 100%», tells the conductor to the Sul Informação the day we attended a rehearsal.

“A large percentage are English, but we also have Germans, Dutch, Swiss, Swedes and we already had people from Norway. In addition to this particularity, it is a choir composed mostly of people who are retired and who came here to spend their retirement, we only have two people of working age», he continues.


Photo: Mariana Carriço | Sul Informação


The Coro dos Amigos rehearsals take place every Thursday, between 18:30 pm and 20:30 pm, and, according to António de Jesus, this is also the time when most participants are people who no longer work.

“Anyone can come to the choir. The fact of being international does not prevent this from happening. The great difficulty is the schedule, which is not easy for those who work and have children. But if we can get a group of Portuguese people who want to work, we are willing to arrange another schedule», emphasizes the conductor.

This is because, as he points out, the great difficulty facing the choir at the moment is the small number of participants, since many left during the pandemic and never returned.

«We reached 35 members and, at the moment, we are 20. The difficulties are so many that, despite being few, I have to have two choirs: a mixed choir, with sopranos, alto and bass, and then, as there are more ladies than than men, I have a female-only choir. The level of pieces that was made with 30 elements I cannot make with 15. In fact, I had to change the repertoire».


Maestro Antonio de Jesus. Photo: Mariana Carriço | Sul Informação


This repertoire, which, as the maestro points out, includes works that «no other amateur choir does», since «a large percentage of people have musical knowledge and musical reading, which makes learning much easier».

«Most of the amateur choirs have to rehearse for months and months to be able to do certain works, we have that facility and, therefore, we can also make integral pieces», continues António de Jesus, stressing that, even so, the choir also welcomes people who do not have any musical experience.

On the day we went to watch the rehearsal, at 18:00, some students were already starting to gather at the Páteo do Museu do Traje, taking advantage of every minute to socialize with colleagues who are like a family that meets every Thursday.

Amanda, in the choir for four years, and in Portugal for 30 years, tells the Sul Informação that being part of this group is good for «taking up time», but if you are here, it is mainly because you love to sing. «In Scotland, I was already part of a choir and I liked it a lot, so when I came here I decided to continue».

The same happens with Sue, the current president, who stresses that the worst phase was during the pandemic, “when we were prevented from getting together”.


Photo: Mariana Carriço | Sul Informação


Now, after that phase, the choir needs more participants to «go back to what it was» and start rehearsing for the Christmas show.

It was with António de Jesus, in fact, that the choir began to give concerts in places other than São Brás de Alportel, such as Vilamoura, Almancil and Tavira, where they performed works such as “Gloria” by Vivaldi together with the Choir of the Academia de Música. from Tavira, accompanied by a string quartet, and by contemporary composer Jacob de Haan, “Missa Brevis”, with the São Brás Philharmonic Band, and “Stabat Mater” by J. Rheinberger, with Joana Vieira Shumova on piano.

António de Jesus was co-founder of Grupo Coral Ossónoba, in 1980, later assistant to the conductor, assuming in 1992 the role of conductor of that chorus of Faro. In addition, he founded and led the choir of “Pequenos Cantores d'Ossónoba” as well as the Chorus of Câmara de Ossonoba and the Chorus juvenile and led the Chorus of the Cathedral of Faro.

Since 2016 at the head of the Coro dos Amigos do Museu, and after adapting to a pandemic, António de Jesus now hopes that the choir will receive more participants.

to be part of Chorus of the Friends of the São Brás de Alportel Museum, just show up at the rehearsal on Thursdays at 18:30 pm.


Photos: Mariana Sedge | Sul Informação