Venezuela Project: Traditional Harp Music, Sustainable Agriculture, and Environmental Education
by John Lozier, Executive Director, Harping for Harmony Foundation
Joropo is the harp music and associated song, dance and folkore of the plains of Venezuela and Colombia (los llanos). I discovered the lively tradition of arpa llanera in 1991, while traveling with a group of agricultural scientists, studying sustainable agriculture on farms and ranches in the vast Orinoco river plains. Click the link to see and hear joropo.
ARPATUR: Since 2005, I've made a series of visits to los llanos, in collaboration with Venezuelan musician and professor of agriculture Adolfo Cardozo. Also involved is Fernando Guerrero, a lawyer and pedal harpist in Caracas, and author of El Arpa en Venezuela (The Harp in Venezuela). We have come to call these travels ARPATUR (harp tour). The idea is to promote a collaborative and friendly cultural tourism with emphasis on traditional music, sustainable agriculture, and environmental education.
I started playing the harp not long after returning from my first visit to Venezuela in 1991. My efforts in the early years were inspired also by Mexican and Paraguayan styles, by the world-class harping of Alfredo Rolando Ortiz, and by the example of my friend John Kovac. I started Harping for Harmony Foundation in 1995, to promote harmony and community, locally and globally, through harp music.
(photo above: Lorenzo Perez of El Baul. Click for video)
It was 2005 before I again visited Venezuela. By then, I had traveled with my harps to El Salvador, Russia, Haiti, Northern Ireland, Guatemala, and Mexico. My Venezuelan host each year since 2005, and going forward, is Adolfo Cardozo. Adolfo has an outstanding career in agricultural science and environmental education, but he is more widely known and loved as a creative musician, singer and songwriter in the traditional folk style.
Adolfo, Fernando and I want to share a unique travel opportunity with others interested in traditional music, ecotourism, sustainable agriculture, environmental education, and cross-cultural friendship. Ideal companions would be traditional musicians, farmers, students, and educators. Travel in Venezuela has its difficulties; it is an adventure. I'm happy to respond to inquiries from folks who may be interested in ARPATUR.
In the nearby photo, a monument depicting a harp stands in the Plaza del Folklorista in Guanare. In front of the photo stand John Lozier, John Kovac, and Fernando Guerrero.