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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

Recycled Orchestra makes garbage into beautiful music

About The Author

CNET Editor

Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

Violins made from a Metal Glue canister, fork, used strings, recycled wood and tuning pegs by Nicolás "Cola" Gómez.
(Credit: Landfill Harmonic)

The people of Cateura, Paraguay, are some of the poorest in Latin America, living off landfill — but one group has discovered a way to create art.

Cateura, in the Santa Ana neighbourhood of Paraguay's capital Asunción, is a slum. The residents live on a massive landfill, picking through the refuse for items to recycle and sell. Where a violin would be worth more than a house, it is, perhaps, the last place you would expect to find an orchestra.

But that changed the day that garbage collector (now luthier) Nicolás "Cola" Gómez picked up the shell of what looked to him like a violin. He took it to Favio Chávez, who was working on a recycling program and had opened up a music school for the local kids — and together, they started creating musical instruments: violins and cellos from oil drums, flutes from water pipes and spoons, guitars from packing crates.

Maria, Noelia and Tania with their instruments.
(Credit: Landfill Harmonic)

In a place where children have very little chance of a better life, the Los Reciclados (recycled) Orchestra gives them hope. Landfill Orchestra, by documentary maker Alejandra Amarilla Nash, wants to tell the story of Ada, Tania, Noelia, Esteban, Maria and Christian: how they live, and how the Recycled Orchestra changed their lives. If the Kickstarter campaign reaches its stretch goal of US$500,000, it will also send the orchestra on a world tour.

You can find out more about the orchestra on both its Kickstarter page (where you can also find an address to send instruments, if you have any care to donate) and Facebook page.

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IvanS2 posted a comment   

Sad to think that the fictional world of Elisyum has been with us for a long long time.


GillianC posted a comment   

Hi Michelle,

It's great to see your article. The Landfill Harmonic story made such a deep impression on us when we first heard about it that we have organised a Benefit Concert on 24 April in the Subiaco Arts Centre, WA.

We are free-lance professional musicians and among other things, run the Kaleidoscope Ensemble, a troupe of musicians, actors and puppeteers who perform for children.

It's incredibly exciting to watch the Kickstarter pledges for this project mounting up so fast. As musicians in the wealthiest state in one of the world's most privileged countries, we feel we it's the least we can do. If they achieve their long-term goal of a world tour, we want Perth to be on the map!

It would be great to know if you've heard of any other groups in Australia who are getting involved, as we'd love to link up.

Many thanks,
Gillian Catlow & Charles Hoernemann

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