The Setúbal Music Festival, now in its seventh edition, continues to be a unique cultural phenomenon, bringing together internationally acclaimed guest artists, from Portugal and overseas, with the local community – including almost 1,500 young composers and musicians – and enriching the cultural life of this lovely and welcoming city.

From the very beginning, our Festival programmes have been integrated and enhanced by themes belonging to the hearts and minds of Setúbal’s people: this year’s theme – “Migration” – with a particular emphasis on the linked cultures of the Iberian Peninsula – is highly topical and of global as well as local significance. The creative work of our young people and the world-class performances of our visitors in 2017 will reflect some of the essential cultural influences and benefits resulting from human migration, not only in recent times but also throughout our history, which help us to define and refine the nature of ourselves individually and our society collectively.  Music has the almost miraculous power to change lives and to connect people – and music itself has for ever been transformed and enriched through migration – here in Setúbal, throughout the Iberian Peninsula and around the World.

This year we decided to celebrate the diversity and globalism of the guitar. This, in one form or another, has existed in every culture: perhaps no other type of instrument is more symbolic of migration or representative of musical life in the Iberian Peninsula. Dejan Ivanović, originally from Tuzla (Bosnia-Herzegovina) and now established as one of Portugal’s most successful classical guitarists, will debut in three contrasting concerts. The first of these will take place in the beautiful Curch of S. Simão, with the Setúbal Festival Camerata – drawing together some of our finest emerging professional string musicians – and the outstanding young international conductor Kerem Hasan, also visiting Setúbal for the first time. In our ‘guitar extravaganza’, a unique show, he will be surrounded by around 60 young players from Setúbal and elsewhere in Portugal. And finally, closing the Festival at the glorious Convent of Jesus, he will be joined by members of the Gulbenkian Choir and young singers from Setúbal, conducted by Paulo Lourenço.

We are delighted that several major groups of musicians will return to the Festival this year – the Grand Union Orchestra (London), the Lisbon Sinfonietta and the Gulbenkian Choir – all of whom made highly successful appearances on previous occasions. Several well-known young musicians perform at the Festival for the first time, including Lia Yeranosyan, winning violinist at the Young Musicians 2016 Prize, prominent Portuguese competition and the brilliant young fadista, Teresinha Landeiro, from Azeitão. We are especially privileged to welcome Pilar Del Rio, widow of the author José Saramago, to discuss her husband’s Nobel Prize-winning novel, The Stone Raft, which perfectly reflects and illuminates our vital themes of migration and the Iberian Peninsula.

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the initiative and support of the Helen Hamlyn Trust, to the Municipality of Setúbal, the Donatella Flick LSO Conducting Competition and to the many local partners, institutions and individuals, whose efforts make it all happen.
We especially thank you, the audience, for sharing with us the music and for giving us purpose.


Ian Ritchie was born in London in 1953, entered the Royal College of Music in 1971 (winning the Mario Grisi Prize for singers), was a choral scholar and a student of law and music at Trinity College, Cambridge, and continued at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. During a musical and curatorial career of more than 40 years, he has directed several prominent arts organisations, including the City of London Sinfonia, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Opera North, St Magnus Festival (Orkney) and the City of London Festival.
As a multidisciplinary programmer, centred on music, Ian is committed to both excellence and social inclusion in his festivals, providing opportunities for musicians of all backgrounds and abilities to create and perform. Over the past 20 years, he has provided regular support as an artistic facilitator in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in other post-conflict environments. He is involved in a number of musical organisations as a trustee or adviser and recently helped to set up Music Action International, which works creatively with refugees and asylum seekers and, in The Guardian Charity Awards 2016, has won the title of ‘Charity of the Year’.
Ian has been Artistic Director of the Setúbal Music Festival (Portugal) since it started in 2010-11 and holds similar positions with the Setúbal Youth Ensemble and The Musical Brain (Arts, Science & the Mind). He is in demand as a speaker, performs as a singer and narrator, adjudicates competitions, is a mentor to young musicians, and lectures on artistic programming, career development and creative management for various universities and colleges.