Orquesta de Reciclados Cateura (roughly “the recycled orchestra”) is an idealistic, real-world post-apocalyptic musical ensemble. A youth orchestra playing instruments hand-crafted mostly from garbage picked from the vast Cateura, Paraguay trash heap, the group has played Beethoven in concert halls in addition to collaborations with jazz musicians like Paquito D’Rivera and heavy metal legends Megadeath and Motorhead.
With drum heads constructed of tape and x-ray film, steel drum cellos, and tin violins with hand-carved necks. It’s not the New York Philharmonic- and if it were there would be a rush to replace million-dollar Stradivariuses- but that is not really the point. Their performances are a triumph of spirit and dedication over material limitations.
The Steward School has two events celebrating the band. On Monday, Nov. 5, there is a free showing at 7 p.m. of “Landfill Harmonic”, an award-winning 2015 documentary about the ensemble. Nine days later, on Nov. 14, the orchestra’s founder/director Favio Chávez and filmmaker Juliana Penaranda-Loftus take part in the school’s Bryan Innovation Lab Visiting Innovator Program. In the morning they will give a talk and performance, featuring some of the children in the ensemble. In the afternoon they will take part in a Music Maker fair, where both adults and students will have the opportunity to craft their own instruments.
Stay tuned for more on the event in Style Weekly.