All photos featured in article courtesy of the Association of Pro Art and Culture
This April 24th the tenth International Festival of Baroque and Renaissance Music of America will commence in the Chiquitos Jesuit Missions in the region of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Taking place every two years, this year’s celebration will be double the size of that of 2013, as organizers have amplified the offerings with fifty musical groups from Bolivia and around the world playing 140 concerts in twenty communities throughout ten days.
The region of Santa Cruz in southeastern Bolivia, bordering with Brazil, was named “Chiquitos” by the Jesuit missionaries from Europe who arrived in the late 17th century. The Jesuits brought their European instruments like violins, viols, flutes and harpsichords to these indigenous jungle communities, who adapted to them and became talented baroque and renaissance musicians, a tradition preserved to the present day—even after the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767.
There are six temples from the Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos that underwent a restoration in the 1970’s, which are spread throughout the Santa Cruz region: Concepción, San Javier, San Ignacio, Santa Ana, Santiago and San José. They are now cultural centers promoting the arts in the communities where they are situated. The architecture and designs of the buildings as well as the art they contain have attracted tourists in recent years, bringing some prosperity to the people of the area. Most notably, the missions demonstrate the “mestizo” culture, blending the European instruments with the music of the indigenous communities, mixing the Spanish and indigenous language, design to produce something completely original. The festival, however, focuses on traditional baroque and renaissance musical works by both European and indigenous composers, which were recovered during the restoration.
For anyone planning a visit to Bolivia this spring, the International Festival of Baroque and Renaissance Music is a unique opportunity that is definitely worth incorporating into a Bolivia itinerary. The festival takes place April 24th – May 4th this year, and if you are interested in this special cultural celebration, contact us for more information about arranging a visit to the Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos as an addition to a trip in Bolivia or as part of a tour of the country.
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