Impoverished children in Buenos Aires express their emotions through slum orchestra

Friday, May. 17, 2024
By OSV News

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina  — While it may have become commonplace to view classical music and going to the opera as the preserve of the rich and famous, Italian opera greats always saw the gift of their music as belonging to everyone.

That is a message being taken to heart in slum communities in the suburbs of Argentina’s sprawling capital Buenos Aires.

Father Pedro Cannavó, one of the curas villeros, or slum priests, beams with pride as he talks about how disadvantaged children in the slums, often blighted by drug abuse, find new ways of expressing themselves by joining an orchestra with the help of industrious music students from more affluent neighborhoods.

Among the many projects in the parochial school of the parish of Mary Mother of the People near the city’s famous San Lorenzo Stadium is an orchestra, with instruments that have mostly been donated. Each year, it culminates in a sold-out show in one of Buenos Aires’ most sophisticated concert venues.

“The project and the event are a way to cultivate culture and music in the hearts and souls of the neighborhood’s young people,” Fr. Cannavó told OSV News.

“Music unites people and also social groups, even though stereotypes pigeonhole certain musical genres to a certain social class,” Fr. Cannavó said of the opera, admitting that many people in the community would have seen classical music as something for people from another social class.

The orchestra is part of the parish’s outreach to younger people, many of whom are vulnerable to crime and drug gangs.

“We work with children up to 18 years of age, we accompany them through art, sports, education – trying to awaken their interest so that they are not in the streets,” Fr. Cannavó said.

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