…though the title doth promise tears, unfit guests in these joyful times, yet no doubt pleasant are the teares which musick weeps, neither are tears shed always in sorrow, but sometimes in joy and gladness. Vouchsafe then your gracious protection to these showers of harmony (…) they be metamorphosed into true tears.
— John Dowland (?1563-1626) in Lachrimæ or seaven teares…, London, 1604
Founded in Lisbon, in 1999, by Filipe Faria and Sérgio Peixoto, Sete Lágrimas ECMC – Early and Contemporary Music Consort – takes its name from the innovative collection of dances by the renaissance composer John Dowland (1563-1626) that were published by John Windet in 1604, when the composer was employed as lutenist to Christian IV of Denmark (1577-1648).
Focused on dialogues between Early and Contemporary Music – and erudite music with centuries-old traditions –, Sete Lágrimas brings together musicians from different musical backgrounds around conceptual projects fuelled both by original musicological research and innovative, irreverent and creative processes centred on sounds, instrumentation and memories of Early Music.
In these projects, it is possible to identify dialogues between erudite and popular music, between Early and Contemporary Music, and between the age-old Portuguese Diaspora of the Discoveries and the Mediterranean Latin axis. These dialogues are converted into sound through a faithful reading of the performative principles of Early Music and a distinctive approach to the defining elements of folk music and jazz.
Since its first days, the consort has maintained an intense performance schedule, playing hundreds of concerts around Europe and Asia, including the following: Portugal: Centro Cultural de Belém (Main Auditorium, Small Auditorium), Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (Grand Auditorium), Casa da Música (Sala Suggia), Festival Cistermúsica, Festival de São Roque, Festival das Artes de Coimbra, Festival dos Capuchos, Festival Internacional de Música da Madeira, Festival Internacional de Música dos Açores, Festival Fora do Lugar, Festival de Leiria, Festival de Almada, Festival Terras sem Sombra, Encontros de Música Antiga de Loulé, Memórias Musicais de um Palácio (Sintra), Festival Todos, Festival Internacional de Música de Espinho, Fundação Oriente, Festival Artes à Vila, Quartel das Artes, Teatro Viriato, Theatro Circo (Main Room) (…); Bulgaria: Zora Dramatic Theatre (Sliven); Italy: Ravenna, Festival Internazionale W. A. Mozart a Rovereto); Malta: BirguFest; Spain: Festival de Música Antigua de Gijón, Festival de Música Antigua de Úbeda y Baeza, Museo Nacional de Valladolid, Fundación Juan March (Madrid), Abvlensis Festival Internacional de Musica, Teatro Zorilla (Valladolid) (…); China: Macao Internacional Music Festival; Sweden: Stockholm Early Music Festival; France: Festival Baroque de Sablé, Opéra de Lille (…); Belgium: Gent Festival van Vlaanderen, Flemish Opera (Gent), Bozar (Bruxelles), Music Center DeBijloke (Gent) (…); Norway: Stavanger Konzerthus; Czech Republic: Prague Early Music Festival; Luxembourg: Philharmonie Luxembourg (Salle de Musique de Chambre, Grand Auditorium), Festival Atlântico; Germany: Elbphilharmonie Laeiszhalle Hamburg (Grosse Saal).
Sete Lágrimas regularly invites guest musicians working in different areas of Early Music folk, jazz and world-music. To date, these musicians have included the Gulbenkian Choir (Portugal), María Cristina Kiehr (Argentina), Zsuzsi Tóth (Hungary), Ana Quintans (Portugal), Mayra Andrade (Cape Verde), António Zambujo (Portugal), Adufeiras de Monsanto (Portugal), CRAMOL (Portugal), Tainá (Brasil), Carolina Deslandes (Portugal) ou Ana Moura (Portugal).
In projects involving dialogues between Early and Contemporary Music – New Early Music Series – Sete Lágrimas premiered works written specially for the consort by the composers Ivan Moody (England), João Madureira (Portugal), Andrew Smith (England/Norway), Christopher Bochmann (England) and Filipe Faria and Sérgio Peixoto (Portugal). At the Coimbra Arts Festival in 2011, Sete Lágrimas performed the world première of the work Lamento, which was commissioned from the writer José Luís Peixoto, winner of the José Saramago Literary Prize, and the composer João Madureira.
With a discography of fourteen titles – Lachrimæ #1 (2007), Kleine Musik (2008), Diaspora.pt: Diáspora, vol.1 (2008), Silêncio (2009), Pedra Irregular (2010), Vento (2010), Terra: Diáspora, vol.2 (2011), En tus brazos una noche (2012), Península: Diáspora. vol.3 (2013), Cantiga (2014), Missa Mínima (2016), Um dia normal – graphic poem with text and illustrations by Filipe Faria and music by Sete Lágrimas – (2015), Twentie Yeares in Seaven Teares (2020) e Loa (2023) – the consort is considered by critics as one of the most relevant and innovative European projects in the field of Early Music. Internationally, mention must be made of the reviews of the recordings and concerts published in the International Record Review, Doce Notas, Aftonbladet, Novinky, Opera PLUS, Svenska Dagbladet, Lute News, Goldberg etc and the inclusion on the playlists of classical radio stations in several European countries.
In 2008, 2011 and 2012, the first three releases comprising the Diáspora project were the best-selling titles in FNAC shops. In 2010, Diaspora.pt was named an “Essential Recording” in the Classical Music Guide and Sete Lágrimas’ trajectory to date was profiled in the publication “Alma Lusitana” (FNAC).
In 2011/2012, Sete Lágrimas were invited to be the Associated Ensemble of the Season by the Centro Cultural de Belém (CCB/Lisbon), performing “Tríptico da Terra” (Triptych of the Earth) at three sold-out concerts.
In 2014, at the invitation of the classical radio station RDP Antena 2, Sete Lágrimas represented Portugal in the EURORADIO Christmas Folk Music Project organised by the European Broadcasting Union. The project was broadcast on 30 radio stations in 28 countries, including BBC Radio 3 and France Musique.
In 2018, Philharmonie Luxembourg and Pascal Sticklies invite Sete Lágrimas to develop – between 2018 and 2022 – a trilogy of original creation projects under the designation “Les Explorateurs” – “Les Explorateurs” (2018), “La Princesse Mystérieuse” (2019/ 20) and “Le Vieux Roi et la Lune” (2020/22) –, inspired by the musical universe of Sete Lágrimas, with 54 performances sold out in 4 years. The international and multidisciplinary team of the three projects, led by director and playwright Benjamin Prins (France), included assistant director and playwright Pénélope Driant (France), scenographer and costume designer Nina Ball (Austria), costume and scenography assistant Nathalie Villarmé (France), choreographer Sabine Novel (France) and, on stage, with consort Sete Lágrimas and the actors and dancers Jan Bastel (Germany), Nestor Kouame Dit Solvis (Ivory Coast), Winnie Dias (Brazil), Alexandre Martin-Varoy (France), Fábio Krayze (Angola) and Alexander Fend (Germany).
In 2021 Sete Lágrimas joins the project “If I rained an ocean” (Se chovesse um oceano) by Filipe Faria and Winnie Dias (Brazil), a video-dance, music, photography and performance project filmed by these directors in Berlin, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Wuppertal (Germany), Zürich (Switzerland) and Idanha-a-Velha (Portugal), with dancers Futaba Ishizaki (Japan), Naomi Brito (Brazil), Rafaela Bosi (Brazil), Rafaelle Queiroz (Brazil) , Fuyumi Hamashima (Japan), Isabella Heylmann (Australia), Hayley Page (Australia) and Borja Bermudez (Spain). In 2022, the film “Ego”, directed by Winnie Dias on “Pues que veros” – a “new villancico” composed by Filipe Faria and Sérgio Peixoto on a poem from the 16th century – was the winner of the “Best Music Video” award at the 5th MiMo – Milano Mobile Film Festival (Italy). In 2023, the same film was a quarter-finalist in the International Short Film Competition! from the Flatlands Dance Film Festival (Nevada, United States of America). “Ego” and “Solitude” – based on “Cruel saudade” (anonymous, Brazil) – are also part of the Official Selection of the Super 9 Mobile Film Fest.
At the invitation of the Centro Cultural de Belém – Fábrica das Artes – Filipe Faria and Sérgio Peixoto develop, between September 2021 and May 2022, the project SETE – Novos Criadores das Infâncias – with a group of nine young musicians. This tutoring project unfolds in a set of masterclasses, artistic residencies, talks, training courses and new creations around the creative, conceptual and formal universe of Sete Lágrimas.
To commemorate the group’s 20th anniversary, Arte das Musas published the book Twentie Yeares in Seaven Teares – Twenty Years in Seven Tears: The first twenty years of being Sete Lágrimas ECMC, which includes a best-of CD of the consort’s complete discography along with two unpublished “new villancicos” and a set of 30 testimonials from artistic directors of European venues and festivals.
In 2023 Sete Lágrimas publishes its 14th title, entitled Loa, a counterfacta proposal dedicated to the dialogue between the melodies of the Italian Laudarios of Cortona and Firenze and the 15th century translations of the Portuguese bishop André Dias de Escobar (Lisbon, ?1348-1450/51). The project was developed in partnership with Professors Manuel Pedro Ferreira (CESEM/Faculty of Social and Human Sciences/Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal) and Blake Wilson (Professor Emeritus of Music, Department of Music/Dickinson College, USA).
Also in 2023, Filipe Faria and Sérgio Peixoto develop a new project for their New Early Music Series (vol. 5), a set of 12 “new villancicos” composed on sixteenth-century Iberian poetry, to be released at the end of the same year.
In 2024, 2025 and 2026, Sete Lágrimas will release, in a trilogy, the complete Cancioneiro de Elvas (Elvas, Biblioteca Municipal Públia Hortênsia, Ms 11793), a Portuguese manuscript from the 16th century and one of the most important sources profane music in the Iberian Peninsula.
Since 2003, Sete Lágrimas have been sponsored by the Ministry of Culture (Portuguese Government) and the Directorate General for the Arts, and, since 2012, by the Municipality of Idanha-a-Nova – UNESCO Creative City of Music. The consort is represented and published by Arte das Musas.