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Classical 101

Paraguay's "Recycled Orchestra" Turns Trash into Musical Treasure

Above: the trailer for a forthcoming documentary about Paraguay's "Recycled Orchestra" - Landfill Harmonic - by director Graham Townsley and producers Alejandra Nash and Rodolfo Madero. When life hands them trash, some of the young residents of the residents of Cateura, Paraguay, turn it into musical treasure. Cateura is one of a clutch of towns built on and around the central solid waste landfill of Paraguay’s capital, Asunción. Many of Cateura’s residents work in the landfill, finding trash to sell as recycling. Even the town’s children often must work the landfill, an occupation that keeps them from other things that kids should be doing, like going to school and having fun. Music teacher Favio Chávez wanted to help feed the minds and spirits of Cateura’s kids. So he started teaching some of them how to play the musical instruments in his own personal collection. When demand outpaced his instrument collection, Chávez hatched the idea to build musical instruments from recycled trash from the landfill. Imagine: the body of a cello made from a discarded metal canister, a violin made of scrap metal and discarded wood. Cateura now boasts an entire orchestra – called The Recycled Orchestra – made of instruments recycled from trash from the landfill. Chávez leads the orchestra, whose members know not only how to play their recycled instruments, but also how to make them from trash. More importantly, they know how to make beautiful music. Hear the story of The Recycled Orchestra in the trailer, above, for the forthcoming film Landfill Harmonic. Read more about the orchestra here: