Martim Souza Tavares: “Politics? Of course not. What I do is political enough.”

The idea is three years old and this Tuesday is an appreciation. Orchestra Without Borders, founded three years ago by musician Martim Souza Tavares, won the most important European award for young people up to the age of 30. He spoke exclusively with CNN Portugal in Aachen, Germany shortly after receiving the award.

Martim Sousa Tavares arrived in Aachen, Germany on a mission to represent the Orchestra Without Borders and with no hope of winning the 2022 Charlemagne European Youth Prize. But he succeeded. With the award already taken, the 30-year-old musician told CNN Portugal that expectations were “happy”, but he knew projects from other European member countries that were “relevant to the time and place we are in” whose chances of winning were high.

That’s when Catarina Barley, Vice-President of the European Parliament, took the stage of the municipality of Aachen, this Tuesday, and heard her say the three words describing the Orquestra Sem Fronteiras project – culture, youth and music – that she began to believe. At that moment, “my eyes began to open,” the OSF technical director revealed, after learning of the outcome. In this European Youth Good Projects where each country chooses a winner who competes with the other member states, Portugal has never won the first prize (7.5 thousand euros) in its 14-year history.

Thus the musician describes the feeling of listening to an “Orchestra Without Borders” as “falling from a cloud of dreams into reality”, as was also the case in Rio de Janeiro.

At the end of the party, despite being the sole representative of OSF, the 30-year-old musician did not spend another minute alone. There was no shortage of “congratulations” from all over Europe. Portuguese was heard, but also English, Spanish and Italian.

Because handing out the award was not enough for all the compliments, at lunch and during visits to the city, many people continued to want to spend a few minutes with Martim Sousa Tavares, who took the opportunity to explain in more detail about the legitimate winner, as did CNN Portugal.

Orchestra Without Borders was born three years ago and includes musicians from Spain and Portugal. It is a project of regional, social and cultural cohesion, designed specifically for the European Union, which aims to engage young musicians who have grown up in the interior of the country and to allow access to cultural participation in these locations, through classical music.

How did you feel receiving the 2022 European Charlemagne Prize for Youth?

Really drenched in humility, because there are incredibly relevant projects here in the time and place we are in. It is very important to believe that Orchestra Without Borders is no less wonderful. Our project deals with music, arts and culture as elements of regional and social cohesion between youth from the interior and the coast. Between people’s dreams and possibilities that some do not have to follow. We, with classical music – who knew – send a political message that is one of equal opportunity and decentralization.

How is the current relationship between culture and politics in Portugal?

We are used to seeing it Culture and the arts are the shortest part of the political apparatus and one of our hottest debates and demands is 1% of the state budget for culture. We feel like we’re always crunching the bottom of the pan and arguing about the crumbs.

What is the significance of this award to the National Panorama?

Seeing this recognition come from above, coming from an organization like the European Parliament, gives us additional negotiating power and more credibility. What we do is not just playing nice music for people to have a good time. It’s much more than that. The Culture is citizenship and all arts are education, all of this is connected. If we want better citizens, more informed when voting and more in solidarity with one another, cultural participation is fundamental and enshrined in our Constitution. Therefore, we are not doing more than our duty.

Does Martim Souza Tavares see himself in the political side?

of course not.


Because I feel that what I do is political enough and it takes agents from the civic and social side to do this work so that later politicians can take what we do and legislate according to what we need. It will always require people on the ground with a vision, who know what they want, to give the political side information that has to come from the ground.

Has this information reached from the ground to politics?

I think it’s going to go up a bit now, after this award.

Why did the need arose to create an orchestra without borders?

It was something that Portugal and another infinite orchestra were still lacking, not only in music, not just in the territory in which we operate. This is the A cultural and social launch of regional cohesion that is born from the realization of a reality: the lack of opportunities. There is a lack of opportunities for these young musicians to believe in music as a profession and get paid for their talents. There is a lack of opportunities for residents, especially the most isolated ones, to actively participate in a full cultural life. Hence the Orquestra Sem Fronteiras platform, which has since branched out into countless other projects that have crossed the pandemic. It was a dream that grew, entered into by others and is still more important than ever.

Why the association with Spain and young Spanish artists?

The relationship with Spain becomes clear when we start visiting the countryside because we see areas so far from the capital and national decision-making centers that they often feel it is best to establish contacts with Salamanca or Badajoz. Boundaries are something that does not exist, so we are an orchestra without borders, not only geographically but also socially, intellectually and economically. We don’t want any limits. The Spanish musicians are on the other side, in a situation very similar to ours. Why not combine the two? We have already done this in many projects with 50% musicians on one side and 50% on the other, At the end of the day, we see that we all speak the same language.

What can we expect from the future of Orchestra Without Borders?

You can expect Orquestra Sem Fronteiras to continue giving its space to musicians and you can expect to generate new projects within the orchestra itself. As a ‘mother project’, we have already added ‘micro projects’ that generate within the orchestra. So who knows if in a few years we’ll be speaking with another Charlemagne Youth Prize nominee who comes from within OSF.

And what do we expect from the future of Martim Souza Tavares?

Martim’s future at this moment will be to pass on the good news to the other members of the OSF. I will remain very excited and connected with this project, but also as an artist in my name I have projects that I will be doing as an author and art director. Between TV, radio, theater and concerts, you’ll hear about me if you like.

– The musical “guilty fun”?

Good-byeWritten by Billie Eilish

– Sing in the shower?

– yes

– Plays?

– I don’t like it, even less live

– Are there bad songs?

– yes.

– What makes a good song?

Flair, wit, and unexpected details.

– Funk party?

– Bailey Funk is not mine, I accept original funk from the ’70s.

– Dance to current Brazilian funk music?

– To the sound of Brazilian funk, I’ve never done anything.

Music you heard during the epidemic?

– It was silence, indeed.

– What makes a good conductor?

– Empathy, knowing the facts and a good ear.

How does a classical music leader take advantage of the novelty of social networks to reach people?

– I had so much fun. I don’t spend much time on networking but I find it very interesting as a tool to interact with thousands of people.

– What has changed in social networks?

– the ball.

– football team?

Futebol Club do Porto (Porto).

Did you watch live football matches when you were a kid?

The first match I went to to watch was FC Porto at the old Estadio das Antas, and Porto beat Academia 7-1.

– with who?

– with my father.

What is the most attractive intervention, politically or socially?


Will any party take you to a political position?

If there was a party that “matches” my political identity, I wouldn’t say no. But so far, this has not happened.

– Do you discuss politics often?

– no.

Is the government doing a good or bad job with music?

– I just started, so it’s too early to make an assessment.

How do you see the representation of classical music in the media today?

– Not represented.

– What can change that?

If classical music reinvents itself a little bit, the media is more interested in the arts and one thing meets the other halfway, we can hear more about classical music.

– What makes you laugh?

– Silly.

– What excites you?

The beauty of things.

– what do you want to do?

Write a book, plant a tree and make a baby.

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