Maria Inês Pires

CESEM — FCSH, NOVA University of Lisbon, Portugal;


Drumming Grupo de Percussão is a percussion group based in Oporto (Portugal) directed by the percussionist Miquel Bernat. The group formed in 1999 and dedicates itself to a large repertoire of contemporary music organized into specific programmes. There are programmes of 20th century classical percussion music, including pieces by Steve Reich, John Cage and Iannis Xenakis. The group also performs ethnographic music. For example, Drumming created a timbila orchestra to perform music from the Mozambican oral tradition in programmes like “Estou-(me) a Marimbar” and “Tradicional versus Actual”. Some programmes have aimed to rethink musical material from pop, rock, bossa nova, flamenco and fado, like “Rock Metamorfose” and “Hard Club”. Drumming also created the first steel drum band in the Iberian Peninsula, which has performed programmes such as “Drumming Metalizado” and “Steel Drum… still Drumming”. Electronics are also used to extend the capabilities of acoustic percussion instruments and create new sonorities, as can be seen in the programme “Algo-Ritmos”. Finally, Drumming presents programmes with pedagogical content, like “Sincro” and “Drumming Móvil” which are aimed at younger audiences. Reflecting the diversity of their music programming, Drumming concerts take place in different contexts and places. For example, the group performs in concert halls like Casa da Música and Centro Cultural de Belém (Portugal), Zentrum für Kunst und Medien (Germany), Auditorio Nacional de Música (Spain) and Teatro Procópio Ferreira (Brasil). Drumming has also performed in outdoor spaces such as the gardens at Centro Botín (Spain), Fundação de Serralves (Portugal), and Praça da Batalha (Portugal), and in Church Square in Pretoria (South Africa). In addition, concerts take place in schools and universities, such as Academia de Música de Espinho (Portugal), Mamelodi High School (South Africa), Instituto de Música de la Pontificia Universidad Católica (Chile) and Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain). As well as exploring the diversity of Drumming’s programmes and performance sites, this paper investigates the connections between concert programmes and the places where Drumming performed. The aim is to understand how one group’s choices contributed to the dynamism of the Portuguese music scene. Methodologically, the places, concert dates, countries, composers and musical works performed by the group in the period from 1999 to 2022 are analyzed with SPSS software using optimal scaling. This shows the behaviour of the variables and the possible connections between places and works performed. This is followed by an analysis, using MAXQDA software, of the content of an interview with the artistic director of the group, the content of the groups’ social media, presentation catalogues, and the information available on news outlets and radio programmes. Finally, the triangulation of the results obtained from the SPSS and MAXQDA analyses shows that concert places and the repertoire are articulated in a way that promotes cultural diversity and the mediation of audiences. Simultaneously, this research demonstrates how studying the activities of music groups contributes to knowledge about contemporary cultural dynamism.

Keywords: Concert Places; Audiences; Drumming Grupo de Percussão.


Maria Inês Pires is a PhD candidate in Historical Musical Studies at NOVA University Lisbon. She completed her bachelor’s degree in saxophone and her master’s degree in music pedagogy at ESART, in the saxophone class of Professor Carlos Canhoto. She studied at PESMD Bordeaux Nouvelle-Aquitaine, in the saxophone and contemporary chamber music class of Marie-Bernadette Charrier. She won the Best Performer Award in the CRCB Competition (2014), the second prize in the Cabral National Competition (2014) and she was a finalist in the Vitor Santos International Saxophone Competition (2014). Pires participated in the 17th and 18th World Saxophone Congress in Strasbourg and Zagreb. She premiered pieces by young Portuguese composers at the Monaco Electroacoustique Festival (2017, 2019). She has attended masterclasses with Jean-Marie Londeix, Claude Delangle, Vincent David, Lars Mlekusch, Marcus Weiss and Andrés Gomis. Pires was a lecturer at NCMM in 2021 and at EIMAD in 2022.