Baroque Music Revives in Bolivia’s Chiquitania

Latin American Herald Tribune:

Baroque Music Revives in Bolivia’s Chiquitania

LA PAZ – In the 17th century, Jesuit missionaries used music to win the hearts and minds of Bolivian indigenous people, creating a musical tradition that has now been recovered by the Municipal Orchestra of San Jose Chiquitos and the Spanish ensemble MUSIca ALcheMIca.

The ensemble’s leader, renowned violinist Lina Tur Bonet, and her colleague Josep Maria Marti have been carrying out an artist residency with young Bolivian musicians in the Chiquitania region of southeastern Bolivia, where they have been participating in the recovery of the musical tradition of Chiquitos.

“These young musicians are very well trained by their teachers. Chiquitos clearly has an important musical tradition, good facilities … One can see that music is taken seriously,” Tur Bonet told EFE.

The two Spanish musicians are participating in Bolivia’s XII International Festival of American Renaissance and Baroque Music, retrieving compositions stored in the Musical Archive of Chiquitos.

After performing together last week in the cities of Santa Cruz and San Jose de Chiquitos, MUSIca ALcheMIca and the Municipal Orchestra brought their collaboration to La Paz.

Their concert here Tuesday night featured sonatas from Chiquitania as well as works by Vivaldi and other composers.

This was Marti’s first visit to Bolivia, which he described as “wonderful,” adding that “the best thing has been getting to know the young musicians, who are very enthusiastic.”

Tur Bonet spoke of the importance of promoting artist residency programs and of the communicative possibilities that music creates.

“This has strengthened my belief in music, in the communication it allows, in the things I can convey that I once learned from other people,” she said.

Jesuit missionaries lived in Chiquitania from 1691-1776, creating a musical tradition that young musicians from this region have strived to revive.

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