The world sends us garbage. We send back music. ~ Favio Chavez, Orchestra Director
You have heard the saying that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure? In this case the treasure is the pleasure of playing an instrument and performing lovely music.
Landfill Harmonic is a documentary scheduled to be released in 2014 about a extraordinary orchestra in Paraguay where the musicians make beautiful music from instruments made from trash. Caterua, Paraguay is basically a vast landfill where over 25,000 people live in poverty amongst the trash and garbage.
Favio Chavez, a music teacher and social worker, started the orchestra. He had learned to play several musical instruments as a child. After taking a job with an environmental organization teaching trash pickers in Caterua how to protect themselves and stay healthy, he saw the need to find something for the children to do to stay out of gangs and trouble. He opened a music school but only had five instruments to share among many kids.
One day Nicolas Gomez, one of the trash pickers, had found a discarded drum and repaired it. Chavez seeing that Gomez had some talent in this area asked Gomez to make a guitar out of some recycled trash and it just blossomed from there.Today, there’s an entire orchestra of assembled instruments from recycled trash, now called The Recycled Orchestra.
These kids regularly perform music ranging from Mozart to the Beatles. They have performed in Brazil and Panama and are hoping to play at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona next year. Many of Gomez’s classical stringed instruments that he has made from trash will also be displayed at this museum in April.
The documentary by Alejandra Nash & Juliana Penaranda-Loftus is not complete. Their mission statement is: To demonstrate that creative and simple solutions can bring powerful social transformation to the poorest communities.
From their website:
Our film will showcase the power of creativity, hope, empowerment, and community work. We began official production in 2011. We filmed some of the children who learned to play violin, flute, drums, cello, string bass, and more – all made from recycled metal drums, tin cans, and plastic pipes. Their spirits soar with each note they play.
We are returning to the village in 2012 to update the progress of three young children who recently entered the orchestra. Landfill Harmonic shows how trash and recycled materials can be transformed into beautiful sounding musical instruments, but more importantly, it brings witness to the transformation of precious human beings.
Our lives were changed in making this film so far – and with your help in allowing us to complete it, we hope to change yours.
Like in most independent film projects, funds are scarce. They are trying to secure more funds from donations and other sources to complete production in 2013. You can follow their journey on Facebook. If you would like to make a donation to the film’s production you can do so on this Creative Visions Foundation Get Involved Landfill Harmonic page.