Orchestra turns trash to music and environmental activism in Bolivia


In a creative bid to raise environmental awareness, a group of musicians from Paraguay belted out familiar tunes at a hilltop concert just outside Bolivia's capital city, overlooking a not-so-scenic and sprawling garbage dump.

But the garbage was the point, as the young musicians who make up Paraguay's Cateura orchestra use recycled materials to make their own instruments, "transforming trash into music," according to Fabio Chavez, one of the performers.

The orchestra has performed in over 50 countries.

Playing songs by Coldplay and John Lennon, among others, the musicians entertained local garbage workers, many of whom were impressed by the sound of cellos, violins and horns fashioned out of large cans, pipes and other discarded materials.

"It's very beautiful and I was really surprised with these recycled instruments," said worker Silveria Vega. "They're better than the originals," she added with a smile.

Musician Bianca Pintos showed off her hand-made cello during a break from the show, stressing the instrument's quality.

"It has the same sound as a cello made out of wood," she said. "There's really not much difference except that this one is made of trash."

The concert played out as local officials in La Paz aim to minimise the environmental impact of garbage dumps, especially the risk they can pose to groundwater supplies.

Bolivia's capital produces some 670 tonnes of trash every day, according to official data.

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