The subject of this study is the choral society Orpheon Portuense set up by eighteen music lovers in the city of Oporto on 12th January 1881. Later -- as a concert society -- it promoted concerts until 27th March 1993, the date of its final performance.
For well over a century very famous artists and orchestras performed at its events, including, among many others: Alfred Cortot, Wilhem Backhaus, Wilhem Kempff, Claudio Arrau, Arthur Rubinstein, Edwin Fisher, Wanda Landowska, Walter Gieseking, Pablo Casals, the Berlin Philharmonic, and the Madrid and Hanover Symphony Orchestras.
This project has two aims: first, to produce factual historical knowledge about a concert society that contributed so much to music in Portugal; second, to produce a theoretical study, based in part (though not exclusively) on the above, regarding innovation in social relations, community regulations and financial affairs in the management of a musical society whose inspired foundation had brought about its artistic presentations and cultural activities through one hundred and twelve years of radical historical change.
The innovations that this musical society brought to Oporto and Portugal arose from the aims of its founders, which were not only artistic, but also social and cultural.
The starting hypothesis of this project is that charisma and, in particular, artistic gifts, have contributed to the creation of institutions and innovative activities, which in turn create 'relational goods' (Bruni's term) that lead to better relationships and increased happiness. In the particular case of the "Orpheon Portuense" (1881-2008), the hypothesis is that this institution was created through the presence in Oporto society of an awareness of the value of artistic charisma and of a willingness to make the sustained, voluntary effort required to promote such relational goods.
But this is not just scientific research. Here there is also an ethical imperative: to transmit to new generations the same kind of awareness of artistic charisma that inspired their forebears in previous centuries and an appreciation of the 'relational goods' that musical societies like Orpheon Portuense produce. The future of our children is, in a certain way, at stake in this project.