FMM Sines – Festival Músicas do Mundo is a music festival held every July in Sines, Alentejo, Portugal. Organised by the local City Council, it’s a public service, non-commercial, event designed for an audience of music discoverers, who come to Sines for the quality of the programme, the spectacular venues and a spirit regarded as unique among Portugal’s summer festivals. It is the biggest world music event in the country.
FMM was created in 1999 with the intent of giving a new and fresh use to the town’s medieval Castle. The monument was the birthplace of Vasco da Gama, and the festival, showing the diversity of musical expressions in the world, follows and remembers the intercultural revolution brought about by the legendary navigator’s travels. Today, the festival goes beyond its original physical boundaries and its philosophy is to bring people together through the emotion of discovering new music.
“World music” is quite an ambiguous term, but, yes, FMM falls into that category. From tradition to jazz, from folk to blues, from tango to reggae, from classical music to fusion, this is – above all – a festival without genre boundaries.
Everyone open to discovering new music. That person can be an old Sines’ fisherman, a young college student or a music expert. Along its history, one of the festival’s defining traits has been the ability to attract people from all ages and walks of life.
The festival is held in Sines’ historic centre: the medieval Castle, Sines’ Arts Centre and Beach Vasco da Gama.
The Castle holds a maximum of 7,000 people and the Beach Stage holds 15,000. Sines’ Arts Centre is mostly used for parallel events.
760,000 Total audience since 1999
340 Number of concerts since 1999, including Taraf de Haidouks, Black Uhuru feat. Sly & Robbie, Hedningarna, Kronos Quartet, The Skatalites, Tom Zé, Femi Kuti, Hermeto Pascoal, Marc Ribot, KTU, Master Musicians of Jajouka, Trilok Gurtu, Toumani Diabaté, Rabih Abou-Khalil, Mahmoud Ahmed, Gogol Bordello, Rokia Traoré, Asha Bhosle, Orchestra Baobab, Debashish Bhattacharya, Cyro Baptista, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Tinariwen, Staff Benda Bilili, Cheikh Lô, Congotronics vs Rockers, Ebo Taylor, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Mari Boine, Oumou Sangaré, Béla Fleck and Hugh Masekela.
Sines is a town and municipality at the very centre of the Portuguese south-western coast. The town is known as the birthplace of Vasco da Gama, the XVth century sea-commander who found his way to India sailing around South Africa, a deed of civilisation fundamental to the Renaissance’s mental and cultural opening. Vasco da Gama was born in the Castle of Sines, where the majority of the concerts of the festival take place. Inhabited since Prehistory and self-governing since the XIVth century, Sines was mainly a fishing and tourism town until the 1970’s. Since then, it has become a major industrial and port centre in Portugal. The municipality’s southern coastline, preserved almost to its wild state, is protected inside the boundaries of a natural park. Some of the finest Portuguese beaches can be found here.
A very small sample of what journalists and artists have been saying about the festival.
“One of the best festivals in the world”
Oumou Sangaré, Malian artist (2012)
“It’s a beautiful festival, incredible location, wonderful artists… very happy to be here”
Béla Fleck, American musician (2012)
“Wonderful festival. One of the best I’ve seen in my life”
Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Indian musician (2011)
“I’ve been to other festivals in Europe, but this festival is quite different. The people are lively, hot. They are very happy with the music. Besides that the organisation is perfect. High-class”
Ebo Taylor, Ghanaian musician (2011)
“The way the festival is put together is very unique. It helps us feel at home, because there is so many different kinds of music playing here… There’s great, serious, legitimate music. For us it’s inspiring and also a little bit humbling. That’s good for a show”
Trey Spruance – Secret Chiefs, American musician (2011)
“One of the important music manifestations in Portugal”
Cristiano Pereira – Jornal de Notícias (2011)
“One of the most important festivals in the Iberian Peninsula”
Radio Exterior de España / RTVE (2010)
“A very enjoyable festival, full of life and happiness. One of the best festivals I’ve been in for a long time”
Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Jamaican legend (2009)
“The best festival in the world! (…) Best sound, best people, best food, best view. A great festival (…) It’s very rare to see that many great people in one place”
Olivier Conan – Chicha Libre (2009)
“Sines’ festival is one of the most important festivals in Europe”
Debashish Bhattasharya, Indian slide-guitar player (2009)
Sebastian Merrick, Songlines (You Should Have Been There…) (2008)
“Portugal’s best festival”
Álvaro Costa, RDP Antena 1 (national public radio broadcaster) (2007)
“The festival of joy”
Oumou Sangaré, Malian singer (2007)
“One of the five best festivals I’ve ever taken part”
Iraqi singer Farida (2006)
“One of the best festivals in Europe”
Finnish accordion player Kimmo Pohjonen’s website (2005)
“In Sines, it’s mainly world music in the move”
Jacques Dénis, Libération (2000)
“An impeccable programme for the quality of its concerts and its balance”
Patrick Koan, L’Humanité (2001)