Imaterial Award — Salwa Castelo-Branco
Imaterial Award — Salwa Castelo-Branco
Teatro Garcia de Resende
25 May / 22:00
Keeping cultures and traditions alive cannot be accomplished by decree. It depends on the will, commitment, and dedication of those who choose to devote part of their lives to studying their roots, causes, and transformations in broad social, political and financial contexts, as well as its original actors. And it depends on a genuine desire to learn, understand, and amplify the reasons and the voices of these guardians of peoples' identities, helping to dignify and promote them so that their history can be shared, and may also keep on building itself. The Imaterial Award recognizes individuals who, through their actions, fulfil this role and bring us closer to the musical tradition as a living force.

After musician Kepa Junkera, ethnomusicologist and producer Lucy Durán and anthropologist Paulo Lima, this year's Imaterial Prize is awarded to ethmusicologist, professor and researcher Salwa Castelo-Branco. Born in Cairo in 1950, daughter of the composer Aziz El-Shawan, Castelo-Branco grew up in a musical household. Her early education included classical Western music, and later on she graduated as a pianist at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music in New York. But her curiosity to delve deeper into musical contexts led her to pursue ethnomusicology while still in the United States where she earned her doctorate at Columbia University in New York, eventually settling in Portugal in 1982, following her marriage to the theoretical physicist Gustavo Castelo-Branco.

Her subsequent research has concentrated on Portugal, Egypt, and Oman, with a particular focus on cultural politics, musical nationalism, identity, music and media, modernity, heritage, and music and conflict. She is a Professor Emerita of Ethnomusicology at Nova University of Lisbon, and has previously taught at New York University, Columbia University, Princeton University, Chicago University, and the University of California at Berkeley. In Portugal, she founded the Institute of Ethnomusicology – Center for Studies in Music and Dance, coordinated the Encyclopedia of Music in Twentieth Century, published several studies on traditional Portuguese music, and actively participated in the fado and cante alentejano successful candidacies for inscription on UNESCO’s Representative List for Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. She is a prominent ethnomusicologist in Portugal. She was also elected president of the International Council for Traditional Music, the largest global academic society in the field of ethnomusicology. Without her work, we would know far less about ourselves.