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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

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Fado concert spotlights Portuguese culture

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I took pleasure this past Friday evening in attending a fado concert here in Turlock. I was comforted with finger foods, entertained with beautiful Portuguese music and got a splendid experience of a culture that I have been all but familiar with until now.
Fado is a genre of music that is popular all over Portugal. According to the analogy given to me, fado is to Portugal as mariachi is to Mexico, or as jazz is to New Orleans. In other words, fado is a genre of music that is closely tied to the cultural history of Portugal.
This fado concert was hosted by Sacred Hearts Church and Our Lady of Fatima committee. It was set in a gymnasium behind the Sacred Hearts Church at the crossing of Cooper Ave. and North Rose St. in Turlock. The event began at 9 p.m. and led on without notice until midnight.
This fado concert, and other cultural Portuguese events, are organized and presented to the Turlock community to represent and help preserve the city’s Portuguese roots.
And that preservation of Portuguese culture was immediately recognizable: conversations in Portuguese flowed through the air; women greeted each other with brief, gentle hugs; men greeted men with warm embraces and women with a kiss on the cheek. There was a sense of calmness and familiarity that roamed through people that was comforting to see.
Tables were nicely set up with small plates, cups, Portuguese sweet bread, flowers and a lit candle. Grapes, a variety of cheeses and Merlot and Moscato wine were later brought to each table as the performances drew close to commencing.
The main stage was attractively arranged and organized. Plants, candles and speakers were spread across the stage. A few chairs and stringed instruments sat in the center. Stage lights gently splashed the stage with a simple variety of colors, which only made it stand out more radiantly. Also, a grand, admirable drape of painted clouds covered a portion of the stage’s back wall.
The gym lights were soon turned off, leaving an alluring mixture of illumination between the candles and stage lights.
Chico Avila was the first to perform. He sat on stage and sang while effortlessly playing his Portuguese guitar. Avila was accompanied by two other men onstage: Joao Cardadeiro and Manuel Escobar who played the Spanish guitars. These two men, along with Avila, remained onstage and provide strings for the entire evening.
Following Avila’s performance, David Garcia took the stage in a surprising, unpredicted way by simply rising from the crowd and breaking into song.
A majority of his songs featured comical lyrics that released a few laughs here and there from the crowd.
The last of the artists to perform, and far from the least, was Lenita Gentil. Gentil, a widely known singer in mainland Portugal, Lisbon and parts of the U.S., was the celebrity of the evening.
After being given a grand warm welcoming by Avila, Gentil entered the stage and broke into powerful song for the rest and majority of the evening. She showed amazing vocal control, and her voice flowed perfectly with the sounds of the instruments played onstage. Occasionally, Avila and Gentil joined together to give a wonderful duet performance.
There was much interaction between the crowd and the artists. Conversation between them arose with ease. Cheerful laughter and smiles created an inclusive air and made me feel as though I was a part of this culture.
I found myself very engaged with the music despite not knowing the language. Each song felt like a rhythmical storytelling experience. I easily found myself clapping my hands along with the crowd and developing a great appreciation for this different culture and genre of music.
If it’s one thing I continually see, it is that culture is a beautiful component of our world and you should never let go or lose sight of your roots. You may not see it right away, but when you look at a culture with a new set of eyes, you’ll see how its music, language, food and stories all piece together to make it something truly remarkable.

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Fado concert spotlights Portuguese culture