June 16, 2011. Symphony Orchestra at a Piaroa Village
The Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela (OSV) is continuing its program of outreach into the nation’s schools, but it is evident from a news story last week that their February visit to a Piaroa village has been a highlight of the past year.
The orchestra launched its “The OSV at My School” program early this year as its way of joining the celebration of Venezuela’s bicentennial. Members of the orchestra had performed in numerous schools in Caracas, but going out into the remote countryside was an adventure. They chose to visit a school in the Piaroa community of Caño Grulla, in Amazonas State, about 60 miles south of the state capitol of Puerto Ayacucho.
Last week’s news story provides a bit more information about their visit to that indigenous community. A couple orchestra staff members accompanied the musicians—five members of a brass quintet, five forming a string quintet, and a drummer. The trip, planned six months in advance, was a unique experience.
About 600 Piaroa children got to interact with the musicians and see them play their instruments. The OSV musicians showed them some of the instruments that form a symphony orchestra: trumpet, horn, tuba, trombone, drums, violin, viola, cello, and string bass. They demonstrated the different sounds the instrument could make and discussed some facts about them, such as how they are manufactured. The orchestra members experienced Piaroa foods, dances, crafts, traditions, rituals, and games in the village.
The OSV at My School program is reaching many communities, to judge by the impressive statistics that the news article reports. However, the article last week does not indicate whether the traditional music of the Piaroa had any effect on the visiting musicians, one of the more intriguing possibilities raised by a news report in February.