Saturday 22 October 2016

Provincial Festival of Salesian Bands, Bogotá

This evening, a concert at Centro Don Bosco: the third annual provincial festival of Salesian bands. Extraordinary, the level of competence and mastery of these almost 500 young people, mostly boys but also some girls, from our schools in the Bogotà province – and the thirteen young maestros, one better than the other. A musical evening not to be forgotten. I sort of like music, but I live without it, practically, dspite the – I realize now very ordinary – band background, and the clarinet and the saxophone. But this was really special.

Part of the secret is that instrumental music and band is part of the syllabus in practically all our schools in the Bogotà province. Mario Peresson, who is the brain behind this and other artistic festivals in the province, said that this kind of institutionalization gave continuity to the efforts; without this, there would be mere improvisation. Jaime Morales, the provincial, said that the maestros needed to be paid well, otherwise they would soon find other work. The instruments – which looked really well kept – belonged to the province, and were entrusted to the Rectors of the houses. It appears that there has been major outside funding, also for the salaries of the maestros. In general, the young people are very enthusiastic about joining – it is optional. There is a pre-band, then the juvenile band, and then the Band (the upper classes). The musical tradition of Colombia helps. The music we heard was mostly modern band music, with the integration of voice and other sounds – some of it composed by the maestros themselves, who are almost all showmen besides being musicians. And the young people not only played music – they made music. It was obvious that a good many of them were thoroughly enjoying themselves.

A wonderful evening. Talk about the power of music, the way of beauty. There is an element of the eternal and the divine in music. Certainly a way to God, the via pulchritudinis. 

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