Growing Orchestras across Bolivia
Miguel Angel Salazar Hidalgo, President and Artistic Director, Fundación Musical BRAVURA
In all of Bolivia, we have just two semi-professional orchestras. One of them was founded this year in the city of Cochabamba, which does not even have a theater that can accommodate a large symphonic concert. In fact, there are only four such theaters in the entire country.
Yet music perseveres. In Cochabamba, we organize our symphonic concerts in large hotel halls and other event spaces. And all across Bolivia, we work to support and develop Bolivian musicians through the BRAVURA Musical Foundation. Founded in 2013 by me and Adriana Inturias Villarroel, BRAVURA is a non-profit legal entity that works to make social change across the country, providing opportunities for children, youth, and musical leaders to participate in music-making and music-learning. Our aim is to empower these musicians so they can make positive change in their own lives and in their communities across Bolivia.
Sponsored by the Hilti Foundation of Liechtenstein and guided by our Artistic Mentor, the famous international cellist and soloist Leonard Elschenbroich, our foundation hosts musical projects at different levels—from socially minded children’s choirs and orchestras to the Philharmonic Orchestra of Bolivia, which brings together the directors, teachers, and leaders of different institutions across the country. This sort of collaboration is paramount to our success. Not only does it allow us to connect with others and achieve things as part of a wider musical community, but it helps us overcome a lack of resources and support at the national level. There are no policies that support or promote art and culture in Bolivia. And the country’s poverty and crime rates, social problems, and perceived corruption in the public sector make it difficult to garner funding for music and academia. By connecting those who are committed to this work, we are able to pool our resources and remember that we are not alone.
Through fellowship and a lot of effort, we have been able to achieve great things in the face of numerous obstacles. We have generated and provided opportunities to many people who otherwise might never have had them, raised the level of music education nationwide, built an audience that enjoys and consumes this music, and united musicians and music institutions across the country. Our proudest accomplishments have been the impacts we’ve made on the lives of students and their families. They are the changemakers.
In November 2017, musicians across the country joined forces to perform Bolivia’s first-ever Mahler symphony. For other countries, this may not mean much; in Bolivia, it was a momentous achievement—a testament to what we’re capable of when we come together to build a coalition of changemakers.
This is what our name and our motto, “Con Tutta BRAVURA,” means to us. When our orchestras and choirs perform, you can feel that love for music, that passion, and that deep gratitude for these opportunities. Across Bolivia, there is a yearning to fully live these experiences—to move forward—and continue fighting for a new, more just society through a message of unity and hope.