Centenary of Madalena de Azeredo Perdigão’s Birth

This tribute includes concerts, an exhibition, a conference and the launch of an anthology of seminal texts by Madalena Perdigão.
16 may 2023

A key figure in the history of the Gulbenkian Foundation, Madalena de Azeredo Perdigão (1923-1989) left her mark on Portuguese artistic life in the second half of the 20th century.

As director of the Music Department and of ACARTE (the Foundation’s Animation, Artistic Creation and Education through Art department), she played a decisive role in shaping the Foundation’s intervention in the field of the Performing Arts. At the Music Department, she contributed to the development of policies introducing new paradigms of advanced vocational training, internationalisation, contemporaneity and heritage protection and promotion. In ACARTE, Madalena de Azeredo Perdigão promoted programming that was innovative in its critical re-reading of the artistic canon, interdisciplinarity, multiculturalism and strategies of cultural mediation.

She also played a decisive role in the restructuring of Artistic Education in Portugal within the Ministry of Education and as president of the Portuguese Association of Music Education.

One of the highlights of this tribute, coordinated by Rui Vieira Nery (curator) and Inês Thomas Almeida (deputy curator), will be the public inauguration of the exhibition Madalena de Azeredo Perdigão (1923-1989): let’s take risks on 28 April. The exhibition, whose title quotes a phrase of Madalena’s included in the ACARTE Manifesto, is biographical and retrospective in nature, but also prospective, focusing on the structures she launched that remain active today and on her permanent attitude of openness to new ideas, models and methodologies of intervention in arts management.  Unpublished documents, photographs, concert programmes, newspaper clippings, publications and scores will be some of the materials on display in the atrium of the Foundation’s Art Library and Archives until 20 July. Entrance is free.

The piece La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ by Olivier Messiaen will be presented in the Grand Auditorium, a work produced on commission by the Foundation’s Music Department under the direction of Madalena de Azeredo Perdigão and providing the pretext for a tribute to her pioneering and innovative spirit. Performed by the Gulbenkian Choir and Orchestra on 27 and 28 April, the piece will be conducted by Myung-Whun Chung.

Another highlight of the tribute will be a conference to be held on 6 June, which will evoke the life and achievements of Madalena de Azeredo Perdigão, but also current and future challenges surrounding her legacy. José Sasportes, Rui Vieira Nery, Inês Thomas Almeida, António Pinto Ribeiro and Manuela Encarnação, among others, will be present. The conference will end with a round-table discussion on the theme Experimentation, Creation, Collaboration: Opening up to what is missing.

An anthology of texts by Madalena Perdigão will be launched during the conference, including the ACARTE Manifesto and other texts with her strategic vision on the decentralisation of the Gulbenkian Festivals, on the accessibility of culture and inclusion, helping to better understand her important legacy.

In October, the Foundation will present an extensive timeline in the Exhibition Hall on the 1st floor of the Foundation, featuring the most important moments in the history of dance in Portugal, including the Gulbenkian Ballet and the Experimental Ballet Group, initially founded by Madalena de Azeredo Perdigão.

Other initiatives to follow next year will take place in the renovated CAM building.

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