It’s a warm July evening here in the village of Bendada—a tiny enclave of terra-cotta roofs and whitewashed concrete walls in the mountains of northern Portugal—and the residents are gathered at a hilltop cruzeiro for a concert. Beyond, the Portuguese high country stretches for miles to the west, olive groves and farmhouses breaking up the rocky landscape.
Standing in front of the crowd, 18-year-old Duarte Andrade bows feverishly through the fugue from Bach’s Violin Sonata in G minor, a piece he’s been practicing all day. His cousin Inês Andrade looks on, attentive to his technique. She is the reason they are all here. She is the founder of the Bendada Music Festival, which for the past three years has brought aspiring young musicians from the region, as well as from the United States and Europe, to this village for an intense week of instruction and performance.
For eight days, the baroque sounds of classical music echo through these hills and bring to life an otherwise sleepy rural village. Modeled on educational summer music programs like the BU Tanglewood Institute, the festival includes private instruction for students ages 8 to 24 in violin, viola, cello, flute, clarinet, guitar, piano, and voice, as well as daily small, often intimate, concerts throughout the area.