Opening Remarks at ‘Gracias A La Vida’ concert.
Dr. The Honourable Nyan Gadsby Dolly
An archaeologist studies human life through the collection and preservation of artefacts. Chile’s musical icon Violeta Parra became an archaeologist of sorts; in the late 1950s she traversed the countryside collecting those old and sacred folk songs, proverbs and traditions, intending to revive a fading culture. Violeta pioneered “nueva canción”, or “new song,” representing a mixture of two worlds- the past and the present, chronicling the life of the ordinary and the social issues during the 1950s and 60s. It was also a musical retaliation against the North American and European cultural influences descending on the Latin American landscape. For some, Violeta became a crusader for Chilean music.
“Gracias a la Vida” (“Thanks to Life”) was perhaps Violeta’s most popular song; becoming the unofficial anthem for Chile’s folkloric roots and rhythms. Tonight’s concert celebrates the centennial of this legend, and in the spirit of passing on traditions, Violeta’s granddaughter Tita Parra, who has carved her own space in Chile’s music landscape, is here to pay tribute to her late grandmother’s legacy, alongside respected percussionist Greco Acuña.
“Thanks to Life;” such a poignant theme during this time of the year. In almost every verse of this song lies a soulful reflection of the positive and happy, juxtaposed with melancholy, as Violeta presents the duality of human life. Despite those challenges we face which may seem insurmountable, Violeta’s music inspires perseverance, and I hope that we all leave here tonight with this very important message.
On another note, I am eager to witness our very own National Steel Symphony Orchestra fuse the sounds of the G-pan with the music of Chile to produce an unforgettable cultural exchange experience tonight at the Central Bank. I know that several hours of intense practice have gone into producing this concert, and on behalf of the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, I sincerely thank the Embassy of the Republic of Chile for creating these opportunities to expand our musical horizons beyond borders.
I also express sincere thanks to the staff of the Culture Division for facilitating these cultural exchanges. To the audience, I hope that these unique performances are forever etched in your memory as you continue to support the Ministry’s cultural events.
Next week Monday, we will return to this venue to witness yet another stirring cultural exchange with the “Rhythms of Manipur” contingent from Northern India. I look forward to your usual support as we end the Year 2017 on a spirited note.
I thank you and do enjoy this evening’s cultural presentation.