Baroque music of high quality was one of the most striking characteristics of the Jesuit Reductions in the 17th and 18th centuries, with the Italian Jesuit Domenico Zipoli being the best known composer. (When the Guaraní wrote music or carved statues they usually left them anonymous.)
One of the country’s leading harpists, Marcos Lucena, started off our harp classes in Santa María, with costs shared between SMEF and the foundation Sonidos de la Tierra, with the project of teaching both the baroque music that is our heritage and the popular folk music of the present day. His star pupil from the next town, Victoria Oviedo, soon took over the classes and has brought up a group that now play well in public. Meanwhile, Victoria’s own musical career has blossomed as she forms part of the French group Les Chemins du Baroque as well as the group Paraguay Barroco. She is now the first harpist in Latin America to play the baroque harp, which has strings that cross over, producing the full range of sharps and flats – unlike the traditional Paraguayan harp, which is tuned into just one key.
Thanks to Sonidos de la Tierra, we have had violin classes in Santa María for around ten years, but recently Sonidos has been reducing its support and now in 2014 our violin classes are financed exclusively by SMEF.
Our teacher is the distinguished violinist Ruben Dario Jára, who comes from Asunción once a fortnight. With him comes Emilce Godoy, who teaches the beginners. In the intervening weeks our leading pupils here, Jesús and Adalberto, lead the two classes. We also support Jesús in private violin classes in Asunción with the Uruguayan maestro Gerardo Gramajo.
In 2014 we also began to support singing classes by the Paraguayan soprano Cristina Vera Díaz, who trained in Paraguay, Argentina, Switzerland and Hamburg, and who sings frequently with the Orquesta Sinfonica of Asunción.