Report from Venezuela, January 2009

I received a letter from Adolfo Cardozo on January 7, 2009. He reports on various projects.

The three Montilla brothers are Jose, Wilson (see photo) and Alvaro, ranging in age from about 8 to 13 years, all very enthusiastic for the traditional music. In February, 2008, collaborating with Adolfo, we awarded them a harp, cuatro and maracas.


The brothers Montilla from Estacada have advanced greatly. a) They have taken good care of the instruments we gave to them; b) They have made presentations by invitation in their school, in the towns of Mantecal, Barinas, Guanare, and San Cristobal; c) they have a harp teacher who visits them 2 or 3 times a week, tunes the harp, and gives them lessons.

Meibis Altahona was 10 years old last year when we made this video.

Adolfo writes:

Her father is no longer instructor in the government cultural program, but has his own harp and continues to play and to give lessons to his children. Melbis became somewhat discouraged when the government took the two new harps away that had been assigned to her father. In 2008 we apportioned to Melbis (in the hands of her mother) the equivalent in Bolivares the equivalent of $200 US, they are very grateful. Upon judgement that she has continued and is progressing, we have ordered a small harp for her personal use, it will be fabricated by a luthier in Estacada, to be delivered January 15. It is costing $400 US. Erika is making a case for it.

La Baecera is a rural zone with scattered ranches, near Elorza in the state of Apure, and the home of Adolfo's wife, Erika. Adolfo continues:

In general we observe that the seed that we have sown in these two projects of sponsorship (Montilla brothers and Altahona family) have been progressing. For that reason, we are opening a third project of this type: La Baecera School for Traditional Harp and Joropo Dance, "Uncle Steven and Juana Romero."

Tio Esteban and Juana Romero, a harpist and a dancer from La Baecera, are celebrated in a song by Alfredo Parra (link here?). Adolfo says this project develops from three dances that were held in December, 2008 in La Baecera. The success of these events demonstrated the persistence of the traditional sabanero dance and contrapunteo. However, this is mostly among the older generation; there are few young musicians, singers or dancers. Adolfo continues by naming several local neighbors and relatives who are prepared to sponsor and support the project. In addition to Erika and Adolfo, Maribel Corrales ( cousin of Erika, dancer); For this reason, we the following are committing ourselves to elaborate, sponsor and support: Erika, Adolfo, Maribel Corrales (cousin of Erika, dancer); Cheo Escobar (Erika's uncle); Nivia Escobar; Javier Pena (worker at La Baecera school).


Also, I permit myself to include as sponsors John Lozier, Harping for Harmony Foundation, and ARPATUR-VENEZUELA.

Adolfo concludes with invitation for others to join in ARPATUR-IV, in June, 2009. At this time we will of course monitor and review developments in all three of the projects named here.

I'm also hoping that ARPATUR-IV will devote some time and attention to the harp schools in Barinas (Estado Barinas), and perhaps pay another visit to El Baul (Estado Cojedes)

John Lozier