When we think about it, orchestras always appear as something serious and classical, something only for adults. The funny thing is, it really isn’t. A lot of orchestras nowadays have amazing unexpected musicians and make wonderful music with some original instruments we would have never thought about before. Even if normally orchestras play classical music, such as Mozart or Beethoven, they are still able to play more modern musical works. For example, Joe Hisaishi, the composer of Studio Ghibli ( a Japanese animation movies studio), does concerts with an orchestra, where they play the music composed for the movies. And it is really beautiful.
But let’s go back to our original orchestras. The Recycled Orchestra Of Cateura is one of the most unique and original orchestras in the world. The Paraguayan orchestra, directed by Argentinian musician and environmental technician Favio Chávez, is composed of young people coming from the underprivileged area of Cateura and is playing with recycled instruments made of garbage from the Cateura dump. It sounds strange at first but since its creation in 2008, the Orchestra played all around the world and what a better way to help disadvantaged children than to encourage them to do creative things like that? With the orchestra, the young musicians interpret classical music works with their unique instruments imitating all the instruments of a classical orchestra.
This lovely story began in 2002 when Luis Szarán (a Paraguayan musician, composer, orchestra director, and musical researcher) created the “Sounds Of The Earth” program to give access to musical education to disadvantaged children with the help of local music schools, bands, and cultural associations. Then, in 2006, the “Sounds Of Cateura” music school was created, but a huge problem quickly appeared: there weren’t enough instruments for all the children. A local luthier, Nicolas Gómez, had the idea to make instruments from the trash found in the dump after seeing the remains of a violin in it. His idea became really successful and allowed a lot of children to learn how to play musical instruments.
With time, more and more recycled instruments were created and the Orchestra was born two years later with the children who came to the school. The orchestra plays a lot of different styles of music from classical to Paraguayan traditional music or even modern songs from the Beatles. The orchestra has already played with famous singers and musicians such as Stevie Wonder and the metal band Metallica. This orchestra is an amazing lesson on how you can turn someone’s trash into something precious, and on no matter where you come from, there are wonders waiting for you in our world. The orchestra gave young people who didn’t really have a future an incredible opportunity to build themselves a better life they could have never imagined before. It gave them the opportunity to listen to really good musicians. It is a great lesson on how to be environmentally conscious when it comes to disposing of materials when they could be used for something else, such as creating instruments. With trash, we can make marvels.
The Playtoy Orchestra, created in 2002 by Italian composer Fabrizio Cusani, is the first orchestra in the world to play with real-toy instruments (toys that have been created to be used as musical instruments.), but the musicians also use toys that are not supposed to be used as musical instruments to make their shows a really unique experience. The orchestra plays every kind of music, from classical to mambo, bossa nova and movies soundtrack, and besides that, they release their own music.
The orchestra has 8 members, all professional musicians, who often share the stage with the “Piccolo Coro dell’Antoniano di Bologna”, an Italian white-voice choir. Moreover, the orchestra often asks children in the audience to come on stage and conduct it. Fabrizio Cusani chose to create this unique orchestra to enable less fortunate children to enter into classical music more easily, which is something often judged too difficult for them. The use of toys can make them understand that classical music can be really funny and make this band enjoyable for people of all ages and experiences in music.
The Playtoy Orchestra has already performed all around the world, from Italy to South Korea, Albania or Colombia to name a few countries, and their popularity increases more and more with time. In addition to its musical activities, the Playtoy Orchestra is committed to working with charities, as they believe that every child has the right to play. For example, they ask people who come to their shows to bring toys so they can give them to children from all around the world who are not lucky enough to have their own toys. They also play for free in pediatric hospitals and orphanages. The Playtoy Orchestra is the living proof that being ethical, unique and totally funny is possible, and that in every adult remains a huge part of childhood waiting to be used for amazing things.
Could we really speak about original and unique orchestras without speaking about the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra? The answer is no! It’s musicians play with fresh vegetables cut in a way they make a nice sound.
Founded in 1998, the Vegetable Orchestra plays a lot of different music styles (contemporary music, Jazz, Dub music and many others) during its shows all around the world. All the musicians of the band come from really different musical backgrounds but they are all equal in terms of decision making for the orchestra and work collaboratively on it. Because it would be a real waste of food to throw away the vegetables used as instruments after using them, the band put their waste in the organic waste and every time they create new instruments ( which they do a lot), the part of the vegetables they don’t use for it is turned into fresh soups, that they offer to the audience after shows and videos performances.
Of course, all the vegetables used to make the instruments come from local markets (the quality of the sound depends a lot on the quality of the instrument and its not possible to distribute soup made with bad ingredients). The Vienna Vegetable Orchestra plays twenty to thirty concerts a year and sometimes organizes workshops to teach people how to make vegetable instruments. They also already released four albums. A live show of this unexpected orchestra must definitely be an incredible experience, and vegetable music could become the next trend soon…
These examples show that the music industry can be really progressive and way more ethical and responsible in our modern world than it was before. After toy and veggie instruments, what’s next? Stay tuned!