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Ambassadors of the region [BEIRÕES AROUND THE WORLD]
Master Luís Cipriano

BEM HAJA - How was your passion for music born?
MASTER LUÍS CIPRIANO - These things, when they are born with us, we do not know that they were born, but they are manifested. I remember when I was little, everything that made a sound I used it, I loved to take sounds from everything and anything. Then when I went to junior school (5th year), fortunately there was the subject of musical education and it was then, right in the first class, that I realized that there were no doubts ... it was that !!!  From then it was always defined, there was never a hesitation ... what will it be???

BEM HAJA – From then on, to this day, has it always been a constant evolution?
MASTER LUÍS CIPRIANO - Yes, but then I went to the conservatory. It was a great effort from my parents, the conservatory at that time was expensive. I was 16 years old and my parents eventually bought me a piano, at that time buying a piano was complicated, but it was a gamble they made on me. I have a habit of considering my parents as Heroes. Because, even today, there is great difficulty in accepting that a child pursue a musical career. Socially this has not strictly changed anything... I have already had parents who have said: “Ah my son follow a music career, but he has such good grades ...”. And a lot of talent is lost because of  this ... At first it was not easy, I started to drop my grades ... the 17 and 18 could only appear in the  column for absences... (laughs)! I just wanted to study music ... I had to make a deal with my parents and I became a student of 10 and 11, I did not want any more.

BEM HAJA – Did you make many sacrifices?
MASTER LUÍS CIPRIANO - Yes, when I went to college, I had to take classes in Lisbon, I caught the freight train in Castelo Branco at midnight and I arrived in Lisbon at 11 am, had two hours of classes, and returned to the train at three in the afternoon  and arrived home at midnight, so to put up with something like this you have to like it very much. And, after all these years, I do not remember a boring trip, because I was going where I wanted.

If I got on this train to go to a math class, at Fratel I would already be jumping out of there, for sure.

BEM HAJA – Was it because of your experiences that you created the Cultural Association of Beira Interior and promoted projects that give children this experience of music?

MASTER LUÍS CIPRIANO - The social projects we have here are linked to children who have economic difficulties, but also to children who have cultural difficulties. A child who lives here in a mountain village may even have money, but they do not have the opportunity and we will get these children to school, bring them here, have rehearsals and we take them back to school. We have here in Covilhã, in Tortosendo, in Fundão and in the county of Sabugal, they are rural children. This project is supported by the Gulbenkian Foundation.

BEM HAJA - Can you motivate children?
MASTER LUÍS CIPRIANO - Yes, yes, they are all motivated. Even because they have to have school results, they cannot fail, otherwise, they are removed from the project. They cannot miss the rehearsals, they have to work. Or we would be creating a generation that has everything handed to them on a platter and then they would give no value to anything. This with us does not happen, they either produce or leave. They know that the conditions are these, it is the return they give. Projects must have results...

For example in the mixed choir, we are probably the choir in Portugal with more international prizes and this is due to the rigor. Of the thirty elements, only four know music, but they work hard, there are no miracles. It is this, it’s in music and everywhere.

BEM HAJA - How did the need arise to create the Beira Interior Cultural Association?
MASTER LUÍS CIPRIANO - The association was created in a very funny way. One of the things that makes me proud in life is the places I’ve been fired from, because they made me evolve a lot. And the association was created following a mass dismissal of the Covilhã choir ... We then founded the Cultural Association of Beira Interior. Now I’m worried that I have not been fired for a long time, maybe I have not evolved enough (laughs).

BEM HAJA - You are also a public school teacher, correct?

MASTER LUÍS CIPRIANO - It’s the only job I have, I’m a state teacher at Serra da Gardunha School in Fundão, the best school in the country. I’ve been to several schools, I’ve also been in high school for many years, but then the government stopped with the placements and now I have a full schedule. And there I have discovered many great children that I later insert into the projects. I really like what I do.

BEM HAJA - I know you are immensely proud, because of your three children, two are linked to music. do you think it was the influence of the father and mother?
MASTER LUÍS CIPRIANO - Of course yes! First they had to have talent if they did not, they could not. But they also grew up like this,  I do not remember it being otherwise. My eldest daughter, for example, when she was born, I was finishing the Composition Course and my wife the Piano Course, we only had one piano that we shared, 5 hours each.

BEM HAJA - You have won awards from around the whole world, you travel a lot, are there many differences between Portugal and the other countries?
MASTER LUÍS CIPRIANO- Yes, many. Essentially with regard to organization. I have a friend in Luxembourg who says, “The day you use your skills to improvise, organize, you will be unbeatable.” It is not normal to disorganize, if I add the hours that I spend waiting to be received in City Halls, over the course of a year, I have enough time to produce a lot of works for children. From the cultural point of view, people complain a lot of money, the organisations have no money for anything. There is no money to equip the schools, but then they spend 60 thousand euros on any artist. So it is not lack of money, it could be lack of intelligence, lack of culture, lack of will ... It may be everything, but lack of money it is not.

BEM HAJA - When they give concerts, is there a lack of public?
MASTER LUÍS CIPRIANO - No, on the contrary, the municipality of Mação, here for some time, had a project with us in which the choir went to sing at the mass. Because the composers of the 18th century  when they  composed, it was not to have concerts, it was to be performed at the ceremony, the churches had orchestras and choirs and so we went to do Mass with the priest so that people would know what a Mass was like in the 18th century. We did 4 masses on the same day, at the first Mass the church was not very crowded, it was composed, but from there, people got in their cars and went to the next village. At the last Mass, there were more people outside  than there was inside, because they did not fit. Which means that in the middle of the pine forest, people also like Mozart, but if we never give them Mozart, they will never like it, because they do not know it.

BEM HAJA - You recently visited North korea, and you  are frequently asked to work abroad, are you more cherished and more valued abroad than in Portugal?
MASTER LUÍS CIPRIANO - Look, for example, at having gone to North Korea, if it had been a Master from Lisbon or Porto, there would have been an incredible fuss. In the year 2000 I was the composer chosen by Palestine to compose the work that marked the 2000 years of Christ in the place where Christ was born, it was transmitted by 47 television channels, none where Portuguese. It was hardly mentioned here…

The recognition is very little, and I’ll give you another example, the Mixed Choir of Beira interior, after 27 years of existence and 16 international prizes, was supported by the Ministry of Culture to go to Poland, but in the end, not a single email with Congratulations to the people ... Nothing. When we released the first CD, we wanted to release it in Portugal with free concerts. We called the councils, there were always big problems. Until we received an invitation from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, we went to launch the CD. It has been like this ... And we are already used to being treated well abroad.

BEM HAJA - Would you like it to be otherwise?
MASTER LUÍS CIPRIANO- I know things would be different if I did not always say what I think, but there is one thing that is fundamental to me, which is to wake up pleased with myself.

BEM HAJA - Was being in the interior somehow conditioned your career?
MASTER LUÍS CIPRIANO - The fact that I am in the interior is not an obstacle to anything, I have invitations from all over the world, it is not because I am here that I miss out on opportunities. I am here by choice ... it would be unthinkable for the North Korean government to pick up a guy on the edge of the mountain to run the orchestras ... But they came! I’ve already been a choir counsellor in China, the United States, Estonia, Germany ... I’ve done concerts in 28 countries ... So being here does not give me any problem ... On the contrary, as a composer I have a much more rested life here , I do not have a two hour car journey every day, it may not seem like it, but we have other living conditions here that do not exist in big cities, so this option is very valid, I produce much more, you cannot even compare it.

BEM HAJA - What advice would you give to young people in the countryside?
MASTER LUÍS CIPRIANO - They must not give up and they must believe in the region where they live. Because even if the good ones leave, the “idiots” will always win. The interior is not a geographical problem, it is an intellectual problem. Some rationales is that they are highly “interior” it is not the region itself. That is why the young, especially those with grey matter, stay and fight for what they want, whether it is in the arts or in any other área.