The Heap
Sanitation Symphony

Sanitation Symphony

Life for the children of families living atop the huge Cateura Landfill south of Asunción, Paraguay, is understandably grim. With few resources and little ability to improve their station, the children and their families are forced to survive largely on what they scavenge and recycle from the trash brought into the landfill. But Favio Chávez, a technician who worked at the landfill, had an idea to brighten those children’s lives and raise environmental and social awareness at the same time. A musician, Chávez’s plan was simply to form a classical ensemble and teach the children to perform music. But there was an obvious impediment: How do you outfit an entire orchestra when a single violin costs more than these children’s homes?

On a whim Chavez emulated his would-be protégés by salvaging trash and repurposing it into instruments. Initial results were less than encouraging, but through years of experimentation with the timbre of different materials and the help of a particularly artful recycler on the landfill named Cola, he slowly began turning out amazing-sounding string and brass instruments that the children could call their own. Close your eyes and a cello pieced together from an old oil can, discarded wood, and parts from kitchen implements like a meat tenderizer and a gnocchi maker yields sounds indistinguishable from the real thing.

The inspiring story is currently being turned into a documentary, “Landfill Harmonic,” by U.S. filmmaker Graham Townsley, and the orchestra has performed internationally.

It’s only a matter of time until the kids cut an album and open a tour for the Black-Eyed Peas.

Source: Latino Fox News

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