The Opportunity to Live a Life in Music

By Salvi, Julia | ReVista (Cambridge), Winter 2016 | Go to article overview

The Opportunity to Live a Life in Music


Salvi, Julia, ReVista (Cambridge)


IN THE COBBLED STREETS OF CARTAGENA, where the sea meets with a land vibrant in history and beauty, music-in particular classical music-has become a protagonist during nine days of January since 2007. Musicians of all ages and backgrounds stroll around the city day and night, reminding visitors and locals that something magical is taking place. The Cartagena International Music Festival combines artistic excellence and education in benefit of a social cause: promoting the arts as a channel for social integration.

The Festival supports the development of local musicians, increasing the openings for a life in the arts. It also mobilizes communities from within and outside Colombia around the festival. Thus, we generate an ideal space for human interaction with the aid of a universal language: music. The event promotes social integration along with fundamental values for civic coexistence such as solidarity and respect, assisted by the arts that open up our minds and help us become better human beings.

The existence of a festival or the mere access to music does not guarantee that the conditions for a better society will emerge and solidify. However, fostering this form of expression in people's lives does increase the possibilities for this to happen. Through the Cartagena International Music Festival and related programs, Fundación Salvi (Colombia) focuses on mobilizing resources, organizations and people to create the opportunities for the expansion of music, seeking ways for society to find common grounds to coexist in peace.

Young adults from 18 to 25, as well as adolescents from age 12 up, have been the focus of our didactic work. Fundación Salvi's leading educational program is its Master Classes, designed to bring international artists of excellent artistic and human qualities together with talented local musicians and professors who seek more opportunities to progress. Each Master Class is characterized by its academic rigor combined with friendly dialogue between professors and students. As a previous participant put it:

"I take with me [the good fortune of ] having had the opportunity to be in contact with great interpreters of universal music and of meeting colleagues from other universities with whom we have identified ways of improving the quality of academic music in our institutions"- Robinson Giraldo Villegas, trombone teacher and beneficiary of a 2015 Salvi grant.

Robinson's experience as a student, despite being himself a teacher, reflects feelings that other participants have shared with us about their academic and professional experiences. In its ten years of existence, more than 3,500 students have benefited from this program, many of whom have received Fundación Salvi grants. Beyond the classrooms, young adults experience other educational settings such as concerts, conferences and exhibitions. The exposure to live performances, for instance, teaches them much about the connection between a performer and his audience and the joy that a spirited musical interpretation can bring to the people that gather to listen.

On the technical front, students improve their musical ear, posture and personal presentation, among other abilities, while on the personal side they engage with peers, colleagues and people from different walks of life. This gives them insight into various social contexts, helping to dispel stereotypes and to find more common ground than differences- all essential to reinforcing civic values. As Fundación Salvi's academic program director Javier Duque points out, "The Festival complements the regular cycle of formation offered by our teaching institutions, in an environment that is ideal for stimulating learning."

In this context, social integration and even valuable friendships result from the encounter between national and foreign musicians. Leading international artists who have participated in our program include the violinist and conductor Scott Yoo, Italian baritone Roberto De Candia, and, in 2016, the great Russian violinist, Maxim Vengerov. …

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