Musical Heritage

Music invigorates and lifts our spirits. The brass instruments glisten in the sunshine and the musicians look sharp in their distinctive uniforms.

For more than a hundred years, California’s Portuguese marching bands have brightened lives with their cheerful parade tunes and wonderful concerts. Select an article to view photos, watch videos, listen to music, and read brief histories of California’s Portuguese marching bands. Enjoy many other articles about the Portuguese and their love of and affinity for music.

Click on an article below.

John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa was an American composer and conductor of the late Romantic era.

Bands from the Old Country

Marching bands, or filarmónicas, began in the early 1800s in Portugal, the Azores, and Madeira

Fraternal Marching Bands

Created to provide financial support for the newcomers, Portuguese fraternal societies were instrumental in fostering the musical traditions from the Azores.

Church Marching Bands

Heavily influenced by the resident Portuguese priest, they encouraged bands to organize to help them celebrate other church festivals beyond the Holy Spirit.

Secular Marching Bands

Associated with the church calendar, but of more secular origin, were the groups that organized to celebrate Carnival

Individual-Founded Marching Bands

Many individuals founded marching bands to share their music with others in the Portuguese immigrant community

Anthony Ferry and his North Star Band

The City of Los Banos is tied to the legendary John Philip Sousa through the life of Anthony Ferry

Portuguese Band of San José (PBSJ)

Discover the oldest current Portuguese marching band in California.

Filarmónica de Artesia D.E.S.

A Portuguese marching band is reborn in Artesia.

S.F. Nova Aliança

The second Portuguese marching band founded in the modern era.

S.F. União Portuguesa de Santa Clara

The fourth Portuguese marching band founded in the South Bay Area.

S.F. Nova Artista Açoriana de Tracy

The first Portuguese marching band is founded in the San Joaquin Valley.

S.F. União Popular

S.F. União Popular is the third Portuguese marching band founded in San José.

S.F. Recreio do Emigrante Português of Newark

A Portuguese marching band is founded on the banks of San Francisco Bay.

Azores Band of Escalon

Established in the San Joaquin Valley in the heart of almond country.

Filarmónica Artista Amadora de San Leandro

A Portuguese marching band is founded in an early Portuguese settlement.

S.F. União Portuguesa de San Diego

The southernmost Portuguese marching band is born in San Diego.

Filarmónica Portuguesa de Tulare

A Portuguese marching band is founded in the southern Central Valley.

S.F. Lira Açoriana de Livingston

Serving Livingston and neighboring Portuguese population centers around Turlock.

Filarmonica de Chino D.E.S.

Many people had wanted to organize a philharmonic band in Chino. That dream came true in 1986.

Lusitania Band of the North Bay

A Portuguese marching band is founded in an early Portuguese settlement.

California Portuguese Marching Bands Festival

Since 2004, musicians from all over California have reunited annually to celebrate the music that they love.

Founder of Three Bands

Shortly after immigrating, he got to work founding three bands in seven years.

Birth of the Ukulele

Madeiran Immigrants created the ukulele from the "braguinha".

Impact of the Ukulele on Hawaiian and American Culture

The rapid acceptance of the ukulele was due to the patronage of King Kalakaua and his brother Prince Leleiohoku, and sisters Princess Likelike and the future Queen Lili’uokalani.