Faith Matters | Faith Matters - The Church Program | DW | 07.08.2011
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Faith Matters

Faith Matters

Sonidos de la tierra - Sounds of the Earth

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Cateura, on the outskirts of the Paraguayan capital Assunción, is one of the largest garbage dumps in Latin America. Five thousand trash pickers and their children live there, eking out a living with glass and plastic, aluminium cans and copper cable. On the edge of the dump stands a small concrete hut. There, with great virtuosity and inventiveness, Juan and Francisco make music on fiddles they have constructed themselves from bits of junk. This garbage recycling music was the brainchild of Luís Szarán, conductor of Paraguay’s National Philharmonic Orchestra. With his "Sonidos de la tierra” project Szarán is trying to revive the Jesuits’ musical legacy. "Someone who plays Mozart doesn’t smash windows at night" is Szarán’s pithy motto.

More than 12,000 young Paraguayans now play musical instruments - only a fraction of them, of course, on garbage dumps! Most learn to play the classical violin, cello or clarinet. And Szarán’s idea has also been copied in other countries. The German filmmaker Detlev Urban recently visited the project in Paraguay: the villages, the schools - and the garbage dump. Then he accompanied Luis Szarán with his international "Sonidos" orchestra on a European tour.