One of the perks of being a performing musician is having the opportunity to travel and visit various places. For me, I love finding parallels between music and travel. Earlier last summer, I wrote a post about an amazing vacation spot in Italy.
I just returned from a long trekking adventure in the Patagonia mountains of Argentina and Chile. It was especially wonderful because it was the first time in a while where I traveled and not had to worry about performing on that same trip. The trek, itself, was difficult, but what made it memorable was Patagonia's notorious high winds and sudden temperature change! Here are some pictures below that cover a glimpse of this:
After the trek, I had a day to explore in Santiago, Chile. One of the more notable sights was La Moneda, where the President of Chile resides. For me, this place was on the checklist of things to see because of its historical connection with one of the pieces that I often perform, Frederic Rzewski's, "The People United Will Never Be Defeated!," a virtuosic piano work that lasts over an hour in duration! See below for brief context of the piece.
In September 1973, the US supported a military coup of the socialist regime led by President Salvador Allende (curiously, he ran for presidency a total of four times; three of them were unsuccessful!). The attack was brutal and violent. Most notably, La Moneda was bombed and damaged severely. Following the overthrow, Allende's successor, Augusto Pinochet, resumed power and the regime change was met with much resistance and protest. Around this time, the Inti-Illimani, a musical group, performed a famous protest song,"El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido! (The People United Will Never Be Defeated!)," which would later become a big international sensation. Check out the catchy song and lyrics here.
Frederic Rzewski in, "The People United Will Never Be Defeated!", takes the same tune and constructs 36 virtuosic variations in this thrilling piano piece. In my opinion, it is one of the most important 20th century works written by an American composer.
Later that day, I had a chance to visit one of the homes of popular Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, "La Chascona," which was designed for his secret lover, Matilde Urrutia, in 1953. Neruda's impressive list of accomplishments are too vast to mention here, but I thought I would share that the poet was a eclectic collector of artifacts from a wide range of cultures and countries. It was fascinating to get his sense of style and taste when touring the house.
Like "El Pueblo," Neruda inspired much of the resistance group against the regime change in 1973. He was one of the most prominent left-wing literary figures (supported Allende during his presidential campaign), and following his death, many mourners at his funeral took opportunity to protest.
At the end of the day, I was struck to see how two different types of artists could find a way to unify the people who just experienced a significant, systemic government change. These are the type of instances that remind me how I am thankful and blessed to be a musician!
It has been a wonderful vacation...back to the grind!
Happy New Year!
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