Portugal 2023

June 5 – 12, 2023

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Read article about our 2019 trip featured in Portugal’s Diario de Noticias.

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Fado means fate, and to the people of Portugal, the music is as powerful as destiny itself. Fado is a Portuguese urban folk music that grew out of the streets and taverns of Lisbon in the 19th Century. It is characterized by mournful melodies and lyrics, often about the sea, neighborhoods, or the life of the poor. It is infused with sentiments of resignation, nostalgia and deep melancholy. Fado is often called “The BLUES of Portugal.”

Ensemble Iberica’s fourth trip to Portugal!

This is your chance to experience fado music in the ancient city of Lisbon along with Portugal’s top chefs and the famous wines of the Douro valley. Ensemble Ibérica artistic director, Beau Bledsoe, Erin McGrane and Jeff Freling (of Victor & Penny) and world-class fado singer Rodrigo Costa Felix will be your guides as they share with you the musicians, singers and great restaurateurs that have become their friends over the years.

Your hosts

Rodrigo Costa Felix is one of the precursors of the new generation of Fado and heir to the great tradition of male Fado singers in Lisbon. Professional Fado singer since the age of 17, his versatile career has led him to sing in Fado houses as well as concerts in Portugal and abroad, participating in tv shows and documentaries, or in major record projects and major Fado events. Rodrigo has a vast concert experience, having performed in Portugal’s main venues (São Carlos Theatre, São João and São Luís theatres, Lisbon and Porto Coliseums, CCB, Aula Magna, etc) as well as internationally in important markets like the US, England, Canada, France, Spain, Benelux, Italy, Germany, Poland, Tunisia and China, among others.

Francisco Moreira Born in Vila do Conde, Francisco is one of the new voices of fado with a regular presence in several fado houses in the city of Porto. As a true collector of experiences, over the past few years, he has performed on stages such as; Porto Coliseum, CCB, Casa da Música or Campo Pequeno as well as in major musical events such as the Caixa Alfama Festival and the Caixa Ribeira Festival.

Beau Bledsoe is artistic director and founder of Ensemble Ibérica which explores the music of Spain, Portugal, and the colonial Americas while educating the public about Iberian cultural influence. This stylistically eclectic musician performs and records classical music, jazz and folkloric music from around the world as he seeks to integrate different musical cultures with diverse audiences. With his many varied projects and ensembles, Beau has performed extensively throughout Europe, Russia, Asia, South America and North America.

Erin McGrane is an actress; musician; author; and professional development mentor. As a performing artist, Erin has contributed to the rich fabric of Kansas City’s arts scene since the 1990s. Notably, Erin appears in the Oscar-nominated film, UP IN THE AIR alongside George Clooney. She is known for her unforgettable cabaret stage performances and toured extensively for a decade with her early-jazz musical group, Victor & Penny. Committed to mentorship and community building for artists, she co-founded an annual immersive educational event focused on performance skills, creativity, and songwriting and serves as a director on the boards of several arts-based non-profits. Currently, Erin is authoring a spoken-word project set to original music exploring anxiety, isolation, and growing up in rural Iowa. Erin was honored in KC Magazine’s “The 100: People who make Life Better in KC” and is proud to say she misspent her youth singing in a rock band.

Jeff Freling spent 11 years in Chicago, IL performing with Blue Man Group on electric zither and Chapman stick, and on guitar with many notable Chicago bands, including his own original-music group, The Rock Squad. Since returning to Kansas City in 2012, Jeff has composed music for film, television, and theatre productions and has garnered accolades as a producer/arranger. Jeff’s current projects include “Victor & Penny”, a guitar and ukulele duo alongside his wife, musician/actor Erin McGrane, and F/M Duo, a guitar group with Michael McClintock of Cubanisms and Ensemble Iberica. Jeff earned a certificate in Composing and Orchestrating for Film & TV from Berklee School of Music in Boston, MA, and studied at the Conservatory of Music at UMKC in Kansas City, MO.

Victor & Penny (aka Jeff Freling and Erin McGrane) have been thrilling audiences with their deft blend of originals and hot jazz, since 2010. Victor & Penny deliver Americana-swing in the band’s signature high-energy style with joy, humor, and soaring musical improvisation. V&P impress and delight with charm and hot licks and they are an “absolute rollicking blast.”

“Beau and Rodrigo were amazing care givers. I felt like I personally mattered; the group felt like a family not a cattle drive. Even if someone doesn’t know about fado, the experience and travel is just as important as the love of that genre of music. Human connection through travel, shared experience, wine, food and music. Laughter and love for all.”

“A trip of a lifetime. You’ve never heard of Fado? Port is not your style of libation? It matters not. The intimacy, depth and beauty of humanity and passion of the soul are discovered in intimate settings across the Portuguese landscape. Learn about yourself through music and the passions of Fado.” – 2018 clients

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Rodrigo Costa Felix

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Erin McGrane & Jeff Freling

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Beau Bledsoe

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Francisco Moreira

Monday, June 5th: Arrival in Lisbon with transportation provided to the HOTEL do CHIADO, located in the picturesque Bairro Alto with stunning views of Sao Jorge Castle and the River Tagus. After resting up this afternoon, we will all get acquainted at a cocktail reception on the roof-top lounge, featuring the best view in all of Lisbon. Then, enjoy a three-course traditional Portuguese dinner in our private dining room. Beau will bring along his Portuguese Guitar to play and explain a little about the fado music we are here to experience. After dinner, Beau and Rodrigo will take those that wish out for some late-night fado club experiences.

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Tuesday, June 6th: After breakfast (included each morning) let’s gather in the lobby as we are off for a walking tour through the Alfama neighborhood led by Rodrigo Costa Felix. After lunch (on your own) we will visit The Castle of Sao Jorge, the ancient Moorish castle overlooking the center of Lisbon and the Tagus River. Tonight we enjoy dinner and plenty of local wines at the legendary fado house, Mesa de Frades, an 18th-century chapel lined with exquisite Portuguese tiles. Dinner in Lisbon is served late so our evening will begin at 8:30 PM and you are welcome to stay for the last fado set at 1:00 AM. Rodrigo will perform with the local musicians.

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Wednesday, June 7th: After breakfast, your morning and afternoon are at leisure. A list of popular sights and activities around Lisbon will be provided for you. For tonight’s outing, Rodrigo has arranged for us a very special and rare evening at his own fado club, Fado ao Carmo. This is where the best fado musicians and singers hang out. It is one of the newest and most genuine fado houses in Lisbon, adjacent to one of the most iconic places in Lisbon, the Carmo Convent. The evening includes dinner and wine.

Thursday, June 8th: This morning a side tour to Cascais, a lesser-known resort town where stunning beaches, historical architecture and lots of nearby excursions.

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Friday, June 9th: After breakfast, we will check out of the hotel and board a comfortable train for a three-hour scenic drive to Oporto. Upon arrival we check-in at the PESTANA VINTAGE PORTO hotel located on the Douro River and a World Heritage Site. We will board a traditional Rabelo Boat for a scenic cruise on the Douro River with light appetizers & drinks provided.

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Saturday, June 10th: After breakfast, we will board our private coach for a spectacular day trip through the Douro Valley, a source of the most exquisite Port Wines in the world. For lunch we will enjoy a tasting menu at one of the region’s most excellent restaurants DOC, by far the most idyllic situated restaurant in Portugal nestled along the River Douro, blending magnificent views of vineyards with lush growing vines. Chef Rui Paula uses only the finest local certified produce and uses them in innovative ways.

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Upon returning to Oporto, we’ll attend a contemporary fado show with some of Oporto’s newest talent at the Auditorio Do Centro Paroquial De Mafamude featuring our cohost Francisco Moreira.

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Sunday, June 11th: Free day. A list of popular sights and restaurants around Oporto will be provided.

Monday, June 12th: After breakfast, your morning is at leisure in Oporto. For tonight’s outing, Francisco has arranged for us a very special evening at O Fado, one of Oporto’s most respected fado houses. The evening includes dinner and wine.

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Tuesday, June 13th: Travel Day from Oporto

Price $3,695

per person/ dbl. occupancy PLUS AIRFARE

Register online

Please have a look at our photo albums below of past trips.

Portugal 2018

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Portugal 2016

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Portugal list

© 2019 Ensemble Iberica Inc.

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