Syncretic Musical Experiments #19: developing a live performance during a pandemic

Jorge Graça2,5, Paulo Maria Rodrigues1,5, Helena Rodrigues2,5, Mariana Miguel3,4,5, Mariana Vences5, Luís Paixão5, Maria da Silva5, Miguel Ferraz5, Élio Moreira5

1INET-md / DeCA – University of Aveiro, Portugal
2CESEM / FCSH – NOVA University, Portugal
3LAMCI—CESEM / FCSH – NOVA University, Portugal
4Évora University, Portugal
5Companhia de Música Teatral, Portugal


Companhia de Música Teatral’s (CMT) work is strongly based in collaborative creative processes and often involves close interaction between performers and audiences. In 2020, due to the pandemic, several of CMT´s planned activities were limited or outright forbidden. New paths had to be discovered and the Zoom™ video-conference platform became an important tool to carry on working on CMT’s projects. It supported a series of new creations that were built taking into consideration the platform’s distinctive features. One of these was the music-theater piece O Céu Por Cima de Cá (trans. Heaven Above Here), a live performance offering two different points of view (at the theater and via Zoom™).

O Céu Por Cima de Cá was the result of further developing ideas that emerged throughout the pandemic times in projects such as Poemário, Poemário Vivo and ZygZag&Zoom. These formed a path of learning, creativity and resilience that established the grounds for a two-week long artistic residency at Casa das Artes de Vila Nova de Famalicão where the piece took its final shape.

This paper is proposed by the artistic team that participated in the creation and performance of O Céu Por Cima de Cá and aims to unveil the concepts underlying the piece, the sources of inspiration and the collaborative methodology of working. It is a collective auto-ethnographic artistic research reflection exploring a) how the performance came to be, b) how “the stage was set” and the scenery and lights were conceived, c) the expansion on the themes of angels, birds and clouds that had been a source of inspiration, and d) how the final performance impacted not only the performers but also the audiences. O Céu Por Cima de Cá is enmeshed and embedded in the places where it happens, drinking from their history to build itself. This paper is not only a reflection on the final performance, but also a kind of “crew logbook” of a voyage that took us to the clouds and beyond, expanding on the webs of relations that were created between each of the artists and the audience(s).

 Keywords: artistic performance, artistic diary, zoom performance


Jorge Graça is currently a Musical Sciences PhD student at NOVA FCSH. His research is focused on Community Music. He obtained his master’s degree in Music Teaching (Saxophone) at the University of Aveiro (2016). He taught Saxophone, Chamber Music and Electronic Music at the David de Sousa’s Music Conservatorium in Figueira da Foz from 2014 until 2020. In the area of Ethnomusicology, he collaborated with the process of registering Cantar os Reis of Ovar in the national intangible heritage matrix, in tandem with other researchers from INET-md (University of Aveiro). He’s a saxophonist and composer. Currently he focuses on solo electronic music projects and technology-mediated performance. He’s working on the first album of his project Fauxclore. He has been collaborating with Companhia de Música Teatral in artistic and educational projects as Poemário, ZygZag&Zoom, Pianoscópio e O Céu por Cima de Cá.


Paulo Maria Rodrigues did a PhD in applied genetics at UEA, studied opera at the Royal Academy of Music and composition with Rolf Gehlhaar in London. He taught at the School of Arts in the Catholic University of Oporto, coordinated the Education Service of the Casa da Música, collaborated with the Planetary Collegium and is currently Associate Professor at the Department of Communication and Art at the University of Aveiro. He has developed many artistic and educational projects, and cofounded the Companhia de Música Teatral, being its resident creator. His artistic projects have been presented in Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Poland, Finland, Germany, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Brazil and China, experiences upon which he has reflected in academic publications, discussing the question of art as an instrument of human development.


Helena Rodrigues is an Assistant Professor at FCSH, NOVA University of Lisbon and the founder of the Laboratory for Music and Communication in Infancy of the CESEM research center. She is also one of the founders of Companhia de Música Teatral (CMT). She was a Researcher Fellow at the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts. She has studied with Edwin Gordon for almost twenty years and has completed her PhD under his supervision. She disseminates his music learning theory since 1994. Aiming to improve practices for infants, she has been developing an innovative approach to training that she defines as “opening the gates on communicative musicality”, inspired by Colwyn Trevarthen. She coordinated Opus Tutti, a project that aimed to create and implement good practices in community for infancy and early childhood. She was the coordinator of GermInArte project. She publishes regularly and is often invited to lecture and give workshops all over the world.


Mariana Miguel is a pianist, percussionist and multidisciplinary artist. She graduated in Music (Piano), in Universidade de Évora, where she currently attends the master’s degree in Performance (Piano), with professor Ana Telles. She has developed and presented work where the piano takes a central role, in an experimental and improvisational language and in dialogue with other arts. She’s part of the creative percussion group CRASSH (WeTumTum) and takes an interest in interaction and collaboration with people, artists and audiences. She collaborates with Companhia de Música Teatral in the artistic-educative constellations Anatomia do Piano (Pianoscópio), Gamelão de Porcelana e Cristal and Metamorfose, taking roles as a facilitator, performer and creative. She’s a collaborator at LAMCI-CESEM in NOVA FCSH, at Escola de Artes da Bairrada, and teaches at MUSA (Escola de Música de Aveiro).


Mariana Vences has completed a Music and New Technologies course at the Escola Profissional de Imagem, a Flute Master’s Degree at the Lisbon Superior School of Music and the Master’s degree in Music Education in Basic Education at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities of NOVA (FCSH/NOVA). She has worked in several music schools as a Flute and Choir teacher. She also worked as a teacher and coordinator of the Music Education discipline. As a flutist she has collaborated with orchestras, chamber groups and participates in shows and music sessions for babies. She has participated in several initiatives of the GermInArte Project. She is a Fellow of the CESEM of FCSH/NOVA, in the Laboratory of Music and Communication in Childhood (LAMCI), collaborating in projects related to the impact of artistic creation for babies. Regularly collaborates with Companhia de Música Teatral.


Luís Gustavo Paixão, born in Câmara de Lobos, Madeira, started his music studies at age 6 at GCEA, Funchal. In 2019, Gustavo graduated from ESELx and ESML with a bachelor’s degree in Community Music. During university, Gustavo took part in several music related workshops, such as: “DABO DOMO” (2017) and “Jardim Interior” (2019). In 2018, Gustavo participated in the ISU – International Summer Universities project in Fulda, Germany studying Music Therapy. In 2019, with the international Erasmus+ program, Gustavo studied Music Education at Charles University in Prague. Currently, Gustavo is working on a master’s degree in Music Arts at FCSH, NOVA University in Lisbon. Parallel to that, Gustavo is taking a four year course in Waldorf Pedagogy. He conducts an elderly choir in Centro Cultural de Oeiras, Lisboa and rehearses Tuna Académica de Lisboa. Since 2020, Gustavo has collaborated with CMT – Companhia de Música Teatral in a variety of different projects.


Maria Inês Silva, born in Vila Nova de Famalicão, started her music studies at age 10 at CCM. In 2016, she achieved 8th grade of piano and three years later graduated in Community Music (bachelor’s degree) from ESELx and ESML. Throughout her studies, Inês took part in a large variety of activities. Contemporary dance, vocal improvisation, body and voice workshops, singing, vocal technique, theater and movement lessons. It is worth mentioning the workshops “DABO DOMO – Formação Imersiva em Arte para a Infância” and “Formação Imersiva em Arte para a Infância – Jardim Interior”. Furthermore, Inês got involved in a wide range of projects with CMT with performances in Portugal, Denmark, Finland, France and Norway. In addition to that, she participated in RESEO Spring Conference 2018, in Bern, Switzerland. Inês is currently a master’s student in Performing Arts at Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema.


Miguel Ferraz finished his bachelors degree in Equipment Design by the ESAD Matosinhos in 1997, and his master’s degree in Industrial Design by the Engineering Faculty of Porto in 2004. He currently lives and works in Porto. He worked 12 years as an assistant in the University of Aveiro’s Department of Communication and Art. In 2016 he started working in the College of Media Arts and Design, Porto Polytechnic, Pole II, Vila do Conde. At the same time he works in design projects in many different fields, such as robotics, music, automobiles, set design, quick prototyping, furnishing, molding. He has collaborated with the Casa da Música Foundation, Companhia de Música Teatral, Ordem do O, Sonoscopia and also in Sustainable Design projects in Alentejo. Of special note in his collaboration with Comapnhia de Música Teatral are the ZYG project in CCB, the Jardim Interior in the Calouste Gulbenkian Gardens, Babelim in the S. Luís Theatre in Lisbon, Dabo Domo also in the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and NOAH, in Casa das Artes of Famalicão. His technological abilities have permitted him work as a consultant and give support in several design projects, who manifest themselves in specialized support Workshops in different companies.