Latin American harp traditions have gained popularity around the world.

Here are examples from Japan:

Joropo style (Venezuela and Colombia): Yoko Yoshizawa - Pajarillo; Mika Agematsu – Quirpa, Moliendo Cafe

Paraguayan: Shinsaku Yokoo - Tren Lechero (“Milk Train”); Rieko Kamiyama - Carreta Guy

Mexican: Mika Agematsu - Cielito Lindo

Paraguayan style has penetrated much more widely around the world, but there is room for more diversity. Besides the joropo tradition of Colombia and Venezuela, we need more of the jarocho from Mexico and the huayno from Peru, among others.


Has anyone else on harplist been to Plaza Garibaldi in Mexico City, where musicians display themselves and look for customers? I have. Last night I learned from Hildo that there is such a place in Bogota, called La Playa (the beach). Various styles are offered – joropo, mariachi, vallenato, etc. There is competition for business. Hildo does not go to La Playa. His prestige allows him to command fees for a musical group amounting to US $500 or more. There are good musicians who will work for much less, under $100 for a group of four or five musicians.

Hildo points to a problem that musicians have everywhere: clients are often looking for cheap or free music. When they offer him food and drink, he refuses, saying “I have food at home, and I don't drink!” Here at Academia, students are taught stage presence and grooming for professional appearance, and the business of music.

Hildo's students have been very successful winning competitions in regional festivals throughout the country. As a result, he says, his students are no longer invited in some places where a community wants locals to win.

The regional festivals promote “queen” contests which are more than just beauty contests. In these competitions, the winner must display a range of talents – specifically harp, cuatro, maracas, dance, and singing. Hildo is grooming his niece, Tatiana, for these competitions. Tatiana is especially good with maracas, and good also with dancing and cuatro, but he says that to win she needs more practice with harp and singing. These awards can amount to thousands of dollars.

As I've said before, this centuries-old musical tradition is alive and well; it is not a “revival.” And, I'm determined to say, joropo music is trending once again.