Sunday, April 7, 2013

Concierto de Cuidad

When I first heard about a concert that would incorporate distinct musicians hidden throughout the hills, plan, and bay of Valparaiso, I had high expectations and an unrealistic idea of how well the hills would carry the music.  After all, Valparaiso's hills seem overly efficient at carrying all the unwanted noises: carretes, fights, barking dogs, unreasonably loud music, and other random sounds that wake me from my sleep or contemplate calling the cops.

The fact that the concert could not be heard clearly in its entirety did not draw from its appeal, but rather highlight the unique way in which this type of event should be appreciated.  Some friends and I chose one of the recommended overlooks, Paseo Yugoslavo, because it was centrally located in the hills yet not so close to any major bell or horn which would overpower the rest.  For the first half of the concert we stayed there, slightly disappointed as all we could hear well were the loud fog horns from docked ships, a faint snare drum coming from the hills, and a loud trumpeter projecting from Lord Cochrane's house-museum.  The overlook was packed with other "concert goers,"  who took the non-traditional concert setting as an excuse to be completely disrespectful to anyone who was actually trying to listen (and, due to the disapproving glares, there were obviously a large number of people attempting to listen).  Loud talkers, shouts advertising veggie burgers, and screaming children let wild without parents having the decency to go somewhere further removed completely covered up everything aside from the loud, deep, ship horns.

After 30 minutes of patiently trying to figure out what the real appeal was, I tried out a new spot next to Ascensor Peral where I was pleasantly surprised to hear the incorporation and echo of a few new sounds, the most interesting of which sounded like when weightlifters let the bar and weights slam to the floor.  Here, in between the extremely distracting squeals from the ascensor that continued to run through the whole concert, I could better understand how all of the instruments worked together to create one piece. When I realized that I could no longer hear the snare drum, I remembered a comment from the flyer that said, "Muevase y guiese por su oido. Pero tenga en cuenta siempre que cualquiera de las soluciones que escoja escondera otras igualmente validas". Roughly: Move around and let your ears guide you.  But keep in mind, whatever choice you make in order to gain access to a certain location or group of sounds will mean sacrificing other equally valid ones.

So I took off alone to wander off back up through Cerro Alegre, away from the screaming kids and inconsiderate adults, and discovered many more sounds that made up part of the dialogue.  A sax and flute added somewhat to the melody, but I seemed to prefer more of the abstract type of sounds that seemed to contribute best when heard in relation to others.  I would have enjoyed being able to hear the church bells better, I was told they were part of the music though I couldn't really identify them.  I continued to walk, constantly losing and gaining new sounds, and with time (and peace) really began to love the event itself and how it worked.

Next time, I hope that signs can be put up in common miradores which ask the public to respect silence and explain what was going on.  I would plan a walking route that could expose me to various sets of the sounds and instruments as I went along - perhaps somewhere along avenida Alemania might allow for better diversity over the course of the hour-long concert.

Also, I thought it was funny that when I checked facebook there were lots of people posting messages like "Whats up with all the boats?"


  1. I love the idea of this. I wonder if, in addition to posting "silence please" kinds of signs, posting a suggested walking route for best listening opportunities might be helpful.

  2. Hi Lidia... sorry for writing this in a post .. but I found no other way to contact you. feel free to delete this comment. We are organizing an Expat Photo Contest
    Let me know if I can send you some more information... abrazo. tim