Issue - March 2008

March 2008

In this edition Eva Biard writes her interesting interview with Teresa Laredo; Charlotte Mayhew tell us a little of Amanecer Foundation; Gaia Pacha speaks with Heather Dieguez about a trip they are organizing with research and adventure; Walter Sanchez tells us more about Incan more...

March 2008

Teresa Laredo

Portrait Profession: Concert Pianist, Piano Professor, Music Therapist and more! Currently residing in: Cochabamba

Eva Biard
Projects Abroad - Volunteer

Cocha-banner: You have lived and played in so many countries and continents all over the world. Where are you living now?

Teresa Laredo: I am now living between two countries - Bolivia and Switzerland. I live half year in Europe in Geneva and I go back to Bolivia with the swallows, the emigrant birds, because I like the sun and the weather so much in this period. In wintertime I go back to Geneva, when it is springtime in Switzerland.

CB: What will you do back in Europe?

TL: This year I’ll play compositions from a lady, that is not known at all. Her music was found at an antique shop. She composed very romantic music in the 19th century. Violet van der Elst lived in a castle between England and Scotland. And in this wonderful castle they will stage cultural events. I like to investigate about female composers, like I did for Clara Schumann from Germany – one of the main pianists of the romantic era – and as well a composer.

But at the same time I will play music from the Peruvian Imelda Bungo, who was a very interesting nun, living in a convent in Cuzco. She composed baroque-music. Bungo is an African name and she was a liberated slave from the colonial time. So I’ll mix music from Europe with music from our continent – with two composers from the 19th century.

I shall also play Bolivian music in France, in a factory – built by le Corbusier – the very famous architect. This is the only factory he built. There are invited the most important people from the fashion like Christian Lacroix. They invited me to play Bolivian music and to decorate the wall with old Bolivian textiles.

CB: What do you do during your time in Bolivia?

TL: I work hard in musical therapy. I work with old and very poor ladies that sell newspapers and candie in the Main Plaza 14 de Septiembre. I make musical therapy with them. I use rattles, little drums, rainsticks and things like this. I work with the Voserdem company (Voluntarios al Servicio de los Demás – Volunteers in the Service for others).

Then I work with children who live in jail at the CAICC (Centro de Apoyo Integral Carcelario y Comunitario – Centre of Prison and Community Integral Support). We take them by bus to a house near Quillacollo. We work with psychologists. I buy charangos, toyas and other instruments and we show them how to found musical groups and they begin to have a musical community. For Christmas they wrote letters to their godmothers and I couldn’t believe it. In my letter the child wished something for plastic art and something to read, so I bought a beautiful, interactive book about theatre. It’s wonderful with this book they can make their own theatre. It is unbelievable how art can take children out of all the problems they are living with in jail.

I also work for about 20 years with the children of Amanecer. Sister Stephanie was a nurse from the United States. She came to Bolivia and was working with rich people in a hospital. 25 years ago she began little by little a project for humble people and now she has – imagine - 12 houses. The little – orphans from birth until six years live in Salomon Klein. I spend time with my organization “Música & Esperanza”. We dance, we sing and we make many creative things. We give them joy, they need that now. We prepared a drama for Christmas together. And in Amanecer they have a wonderful director and a very good psychologist. There are some cases who really need persons like them. You can do incredible things through practicing music. The children become open minded and universal. So they can get out of their problems.

In La Paz we work together with Stefan Gurtner. He is a street worker and convinced that “aesthetics brings us to ethics”. He had a little house in “El Alto” where he painted the walls and made nice things. He works with marginalized boys and some work as shoe-shiners. He started to build a group of theatre with them and the boys started to get interested in music and writing and playing theatre. Currently he works in Quillacollo-Cochabamba with a similar project in the house named “Los Tres Soles” (The Three Suns). You should know this man. He wrote little books about migration of people from the countryside to the big cities and also about the migration of dogs. El grano verde (The Green Grain) and Pata Chueca – si los perros hablaran (If Dogs Could Speak) are his beautiful books – you can buy them here in book-shops.

CB: You also wrote a book!

TL: Yes, in Encuentros y Resonancias – Teresa Laredo, one chapter is called “Stellina y otros animales” (Stellina and other animals). It tells about an domesticated cricket, who did like music from my piano, from the confidence of birds and butterflies in me and my dog Stellina who lived with me in a total symbiosis for more than eight years. Stellina was always with me, listening when I was playing the harp. One day fascinated she moved her ears and her head during the whole performance of a Violoncellist. How beautiful are animals and how much we can learn from them.

My book is published in French, Spanish and recently in English with Polygraf. My brother helped me with the translation and on the 25th of March I shall present my book in the Centro Boliviano-Americano. I have a special interest in the English language because I will play in England and Scotland and people can read what was in my life, how I developed my philosophy of living. Maybe young people can use it when making decisions.

CB: You compose music with titles like “Anima”, “Astral wings”etc.. How did you find your relation with the universe?

TL: I was mystical since I was born. I think, I was always looking for a metaphysical way to understand life. Since I was very young I was really aligned to faith and when I grew up I learned to express myself related to my spiritual link. I believe in cosmic power and protection.

I lived for 50 years in Asia, Africa, Europe and Australia, and in every continent I found a message. I am not a person that can be restricted to any kind of narrow ways. I am interested in everything, Tao, Zen…. I am born catholic but everything delights me. Krishna, Buddha…I played music in temples and in churches, I play everywhere. Since I was 16 years old I have a special relationship to Francis from Assisi who is so much related to animals and nature. He showed me the way.

I read books of Mary Baker Eddy, an American lady from the 19th century. She wrote one book “Science and health with key to the scriptures” in the year 1875. This lady found out how to take the elements of healing out of the bible. And I took out for me how to heal with sound-waves. I am a music-therapist. I heal with music. Well, the people are not healed by me but by sounds - by sound-waves. She was a very special woman, because in her period women were not greatly respected and she found out truth. The alternative medicine goes along with ideas of this woman, that the healing primarily happens in the mind. Those ideas have been with me all over my life. It’s incredible.

CB:Would you like to play for us?

TL: Of course I will play both instruments for you!

And then she heads straight to her grand piano, that is situated near the window in her living room and starts playing a composition from a totally unknown female composer of Bolivia...immediately bringing forth the feeling, that the sounds of her powerful performance fill the whole room, escaping out of the window, entering again through another one, like circulating in invisible waves.

We change to a small room, that is perfectly made for the shape of her harpsichord. Both instruments were shipped from Europe to Bolivia. She plays music from Imelda Bungo, interprets Andean music and Clara Schuman. Her fingers strike the keys forcefully and with impressive tempo. Finishing her performance, she says, “I lived such an interesting life while playing in so many countries of the world. I played for princes and for humble people. I am very privileged because I can understand both, and both need music – both need happiness.”

Then we are allowed to discover some treasures in her apartment. Our ears can differentiate between two sounds while the seeds are running through the rainsticks one after the other.

One sound tickles more in the head and the other one is felt in the chest.

The long-lasting sounds of two tingshas (two cymbals strung together) from Tibet struck together causing the feeling that the metal is beginning to sing. The sound waves eliminate the last thoughts in our mind, making it relaxing and peaceful.

In the street my friend and I look at each other, first thinking than saying...What an incredible woman!

Amanecer Foundation

Begging, stealing, drugs, prostitution- this is the day to day life for those forced to live on the streets of Cochabamba, aspects of life that we hope our own children should never have to encounter. It is estimated there are around 2500 children currently living on the streets of Cochabamba, La Paz and Santa Cruz, be it through violence or too large a family so there is no food, or they are abandoned. In some cases there are whole families living on the street owing to the collapse of their livelihood within a rural community.

read more ...

Archive Issues

2007 | 2008 | 2009