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Aylén Flores arranges the violin, adjusts the bow and the sweet sound begins to spring up without pause. "The first time I heard my teacher play I fell completely in love," she will say later, with a smile on her face. At his side, Santiago Ortega (24) and Geraldine Lara (21) review the notes on a staff with their instruments on one side and discuss a composition, while the young cellist Jonatan Terrazas (20), who has just arrived at the rehearsal, joins in silence. The scene takes place in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, in an area where needs abound. There, a hundred young people, teenagers, boys and girls captivated by classical music are preparing for the third edition of the Villera Opera Festival to be held at the beginning of November.
"With music, inequality is reduced", defines Mailén Ubiedo Myskow (Buenos Aires, 34), a graduate in Composition from the Argentine Catholic University and coordinator of the Argentine Solidarity Artistic Center (CASA), made up of a group of teachers who give workshops of all the disciplines that make up opera (music, dramaturgy, costumes and characterization) to about 180 boys and girls from the Fatima and Padre Ricciardelli neighborhoods. two of the most humble settlements in the City of Buenos Aires.
The initiative arose in 2010, when Ubiedo Myskow was finishing his university studies. Together with a group of colleagues, he began to give workshops in vulnerable neighborhoods. "I always had a social vocation from music," he says. "I am privileged, I was able to study what I wanted, but there are people who were not touched by that reality and it would be good if I could access," she hopes.
Mailén Ubiedo Myskow.Silvina Frydlewsky
Thirteen years later, the project already has more than 20 teachers and in addition to producing the first Villera Opera Festival, they give impetus to the artistic career of young people who have just finished school: several of their students entered conservatories to study music professionally, others are students of the Instituto Superior de Arte del Teatro Colón – the prestigious Argentine opera house – and one of them, Nashy-Nashai has just won the Netflix reality show La Firma, a talent show that sought out the great figures of the urban genre in Latin America.
Music to confront inequality
For Santiago it is impossible to forget the first day he played the trumpet, at the age of 13. His body vibrated, he recalls eleven years later. "It's a unique experience," he says during a break in rehearsal. In his family nobody was dedicated to music and it was he alone who approached a workshop that Youth Orchestras that worked in his neighborhood, intrigued by the magic of the instruments. Ortega, who has just joined this year's workshop coordinated by Ubiedo Myskow, is excited to participate in the festival that will take place from November 4 to 12. "I'm composing, which is something I've never done, it's good to try new things," he reflects.
Dozens of children aged 10 to 18 and older people participate in the trial and workshops. This takes place in an area of the La Verónica foundation where homes for women victims of violence who live in the houses from Monday to Friday. On Saturdays it is the headquarters of the CASA project, where in addition to the composition workshop the disciplines of dramaturgy -a key piece of the opera-, characterization and costumes advance.
Young people work in the making of costumes, in one of the workshops of the CASA, on September 2. Silvina Frydlewsky
Tatiana Solorzano (21) was a student of Mailén at the school and thanks to her she met the CASA. Although as a teenager she wanted to study cardiology, when she enrolled in the courses she discovered that her true passion was artistic makeup and costumes. Now he is a student of the Characterization career that is dictated at the Teatro Colón and dreams of making the complete costumes for a work.
For Ubiedo Myskow, music is a tool to reduce inequality and show young people that it can be their livelihood. Therefore, he emphasizes that art can be sold as a product. "They can work in film, theater or television, regardless of whether they were born in a popular neighborhood," he reflects. "What we do exceeds art," says the teacher, who clarifies: "In these neighborhoods, the artistic is an excuse to meet, to accompany children who have very complicated economic realities, where lack of money is a common denominator, but there are also situations of violence, abuse and in many cases live overcrowded. "
Young people participate in an art workshop of the CASA in the facilities of the foundation La Verónica.Silvina Frydlewsky
"I want this for my life"
In the exit of the quarantine by covid – which in the informal settlements of Buenos Aires caused havoc by the living conditions – the Villera Opera Festival was born with the aim of exposing all the artistic production of the students. After two editions, now the young people are preparing for the third, which is carried out jointly by CASA and the company Contemporánea Lírica and will include three micro-operas of 20 minutes, in which three lyrical singers will participate as guests.
The production requires an architecture that is not at all simple: the theater group creates a dramaturgy for the opera; while the musicians are in charge of the composition. The designers, on the other hand, are in charge of the costumes and scenery, and the characterizers do the same with the makeup. "It's something that doesn't exist, it wasn't done. For the boys it is the closing time and for us it is fabulous, all the families come. There is light, sound... they feel like they're at the Teatro Colón. They tell us 'I want this for my life,'" the teacher gets excited.
The coordinator believes that the next big step is to be able to build a residence for young musicians that also includes a home for children. "We do not have the commitment of the State that we would like to have, we struggle to get our own space, because now we are under loan. But the project covers more, it runs from the artistic, "he acknowledges.
Young people during one of the activities of preparation of the festival. Silvina Frydlewsky
A pure orchestra
"This is my second festival and I'm taking care of the composition, which is what I want to dedicate myself to," says Jonatan Terrazas during a break in rehearsal. Born in Bolivia, seven years ago he moved to Buenos Aires with his family and has long played the cello, an instrument he did not know and completely captivated him. "It's uncommon, it has its complexity, especially with tuning," explains the young man, who studies at the Astor Piazzolla conservatory, like Aylén Flores, who met the violin three years ago, when he heard Mailén play it. "I fell in love and wanted to learn, before I had never seen or heard a violin," he says.
On the other hand, Geraldine Lara did know the violin because some relatives played it. "I grabbed it ten years ago and I didn't let go anymore, I'm motivated by the difficulty, wanting to improve myself," says conservatory student Manuel de Falla, who also began teaching musical initiation classes to children who join the CASA project. A few minutes later they will resume the composition. When the cold Saturday afternoon is about to come to an end, between smiles that do not fade, the sound of classical music will take over the small room. There, again, they will shine again, in spite of everything.
The musicians rehearse together on September 2 in Buenos Aires (Argentina). Silvina Frydlewsky