Phillips Academy Bands Explore Food, Architecture, and Fado Music in Portugal

Andover bands went site-seeing and visited the Belem Tower in Lisbon.

Andover Bands pose for a photo in the performance hall.

Shouts of “Salt Peanuts” echoed through the Teatro Nacional De San Joao in Porto, Portugal, as members of the Phillips Academy Jazz Band performed their rendition of Dizzy Gillespie’s widely recognized jazz standard.

Over the first week of Spring Break, 46 students had the opportunity to tour four cities in Portugal, including Lisbon, Sintra, Coimbra, and Porto. They hosted two concerts and shared their experience performing abroad. Brandon Fu ’25, who plays the clarinet and tenor saxophone, compared their performances to ones held on campus.

“The [audience in Portugal] was super energetic, and they gave us a standing ovation in Lisbon. They also laughed at a lot of Mr. [Peter] Cirelli’s jokes… It was really fun performing in an unfamiliar space. It made me more excited to play and our hard work paid off,” said Fu.

Apart from showcasing their musical talent, participants were able to visit places they have never visited before, learn about different kinds of culture, and enjoy local delicacies. Jasmine Ma ’23, who plays the flute and piccolo, described how learning about Portuguese culture was particularly memorable.

“On our third night in Lisbon, we enjoyed a very unique dining experience at a restaurant called Fado Em Si, which had amazing traditional Portuguese Fado singers and performers. I absolutely loved their performances and am now very interested in hearing more Fado music and learning more about its history. This was my favorite experience from the trip and I’m very glad that our tour made a stop there,” wrote Ma in an email to The Phillipian.

Although there were difficulties communicating with locals in Portugal, Mr. Cirelli’s ability to speak in Portuguese helped the students adapt to their new environment smoothly, according to Fu.

“I think the language barriers, if any, were mitigated by Mr. Cirelli’s ability to talk to the audience in their language, Portuguese. Before each of our selections in both jazz and band, he gave a small introduction and cracked a joke or two,” said Fu.

As part of Andover’s Learning in the World (LITW) Program, this tour allowed for communication and understanding among the band members, providing them the opportunity to form closer relationships with their fellow musicians and chaperones from the music department. Peter Cirelli, Jazz Band conductor and Instructor in Music, spoke on the lessons that can be taken from the trip.

“The intention of our Music Tours is to give many of our advanced student musicians an opportunity to focus only on making music for a week or so, and to present their music to the world. This opportunity allows students a chance to further develop this part of who they are, and also to learn more about a culture different from their own,” wrote Cirelli in an email to The Phillipian.

Since this tour happened over Spring Break, those who joined were able to experience new cultures and connect with peers away from the pressure of school work. Alto saxophonist Ethan Liu ’26 described his takeaways of the program.

“Going to Portugal was really eye-opening… The architecture really opened my perspective and my peers’ perspectives. Every single building we came across had intricate tiling and the food was just amazing. This kind of experience is once in a lifetime, and there’s nothing better than making music with your friends,” said Liu.