Sunday, February 7, 2010

Music Festival Begins Carnival in Oruro

In a celebration mixing music, culture, and politics, the 9th Annual Music Festival in Oruro kicked off the week-long Carnival festivities. 6,000 musicians and more than 5,000 spectators, including President Evo Morales and Culture Minister Zulma Yugar, attended the 2 1/2 hour-long opening procession.

The numbers at the annual event topped attendance of previous years by more than 500 performers despite the absence of several musicians currently in Puno, Peru for Carnival.

The musicians covered a range of traditional songs and musical styles, including "Tata Inti," the MAS (Movimiento a Socialismo) campaign song of 2005. In addition to MAS´ themesong, the name of this year´s event, "My Free Multinational State," also echoed recent constitutional reforms of the Morales administration. In the words of Gonzalo Choque, president of the Association of Professional Musicians of Oruro, "this festival is dedicated to the fight of the movements."

President Morales, who once played the trumpet in the Real Banda Imperial, joined the musicians in wearing a white shirt with Andean designs and a wiphala, the multi-colored Andean flag, as a scarf. In meetings before the festival President Morales and Minister Yugar announced that in the next year, more than 1500 musicians from Oruro will travel around Bolivia to perform. According to Minister Yugar, "The intention of this initiative is that all of the country can enjoy this true pride of Bolivia."

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