Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Recycled Orchestra


volume 2

The Recycled Orchestra ~ inspiring young minds one note at a time!

Perhaps you've heard about this, a surprising YouTube video that went viral.  In South America, the people of Cateura, Paraguay, living in slums, faced with poverty and waste pollution, have made an extrordinary effort at recycling.  This is truly upcycling as they are making orchestral instruments out of trash.  The product is amazingly resonant instruments organized into a performance group, appropriately named The Recycled Orchestra.  Their video: shows their efforts.  A 19-year-old boy nicknamed Bebi shows how his cello is primarily comprised of a discarded oil can and scrap wood.  The recycled-wood finger board sports unmatched tuning pegs made from a tool formerly used to tenderize beef and one to make gnocchi.

Families in Cateura sort through the trash dump and sell the recyclables.  One man comments that a real violin is worth more than a house there.  He also speaks of the happiness it gives him to present a child with an instrument formed and risen from the ashes.  Ada, a 15-year-old girl, says of her recycled violin, "when I listen to the sound of a violin, I feel butterflies in my stomach.  It's a feeling that I don't know how to explain."  Writing from the land of plenty (literally, I write from the fabulous, newly opened SFJAZZ Center), this is very stirring.  I am so happy for Ada and her violin.

The director of 'La Orquesta de Instrumentos Reciclados de Cateura', Favio Chavez, grew up in a small town about 2 hours away.  He learned guitar at a very young age, worked as a choir director at 11, and also worked for his family since the age of 9.  Studying environmental science later had him working at a recycling project centered around Cateura, where the country's main landfill exists.  Seeing the needs of the children there gave him the idea for the Recycled Orchestra and a music school was born.

Their video was created with the idea to raise funds so they can tour the USA.  I think this sounds like a very interesting ticket.  I hope Ada gets to tour with that violin.

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