Tag: Landfill Harmonic Orchestra

MUST WATCH VIDEO: Their Instruments May Be Garbage, But the Music of This Children’s Orchestra Will Bring Tears to Your Eyes

Members of the Landfill Harmonic Orchestra. Courtesy Landfill Harmonic

Close your eyes and listen to Juan Manuel Chavez launch into the Prelude of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1, and you would never guess that, instead of spruce and maple, his instrument is crafted from an old oil can, a beef tenderizing tool, and a discarded pasta making device—all of it scavenged from the landfill that surrounds his home in Paraguay.

Chavez is a cellist in the Landfill Harmonic Orchestra in Cateura, an Asunción slum where bottle caps, door keys, and paint cans have been given new purpose. Under the supervision of local musician Favio Chávez, these utterly impoverished kids make beautiful music on instruments constructed almost entirely out of materials reclaimed from the dump.

Filmmaker and Asunción native Alejandra Nash first heard about the phenomenon back in 2009, and decided to produce a documentary about the kids—she and her co-producers are aiming for a 2014 release. She’ll have plenty of support. The teaser she posted online last November quickly went viral, with 2 million views on Vimeo, and nearly 1 million on Youtube. It’s inspiring. Check it out…

Now her project’s Facebook page has more than 125,000 likes. And a Kickstarter campaign Nash launched in April to help fund the film’s completion has raised almost $200,000, well over the $175,000 she’d asked for. Beyond funding post-production work, the additional money will help finance a world tour for the orchestra, and an expansion of what has come to be known as the Landfill Harmonic Movement.

The idea for the orchestra first came about after Chávez brought a youth orchestra from the neighboring town of Carapeguá to perform in Cateura. The Cateura kids wanted to learn, too, but as Chávez points out in the teaser, “A community like Cateura is not a place to have a violin. In fact, a violin is worth more than a house here.”

So he and local garbage picker Nicolás Gómez began experimenting with instruments they constructed from trash: Tin water pipes, buttons, bottle caps, and spoon and fork handles make up the body and keys of the saxophones. Oil or paint cans and recycled wood are used for the string section. Continue reading “MUST WATCH VIDEO: Their Instruments May Be Garbage, But the Music of This Children’s Orchestra Will Bring Tears to Your Eyes”