Off to meet the students.Travelling and working in Bolivia is not always very predictable. We were told that the Coro y Orquesta Urubichá were eagerly waiting for us; they would play for us, we could play for them, maybe even play a little bit together, and that “you will improvise this”. NBE are no strangers to this concept. We strongly beleave that being flexible, inventive and adventurous is an important asset, in musicianship as well as in life in general. And certainly, especially in Bolivia…

Tursday 22. April
Six hours after leaving Trinidad, travelling on narrow dirt roads through the beautiful open and lush landscape, we arrive to find that the orchestra of 800 children (or possibly 300, we are still uncertain about this) has left for Santa Cruz for the APAC festival.

Instead of the big workshop we play a mini concert for the teachers and children of the Urubicha juvenile orchestra, about 25 strings and 10 winds, in their small rehearsal space, hoping that the roof wouldn’t fall down from the sound. (Bolivian children seem to be fond of a lot of sound though…)

We also play along with the orchestra in some pieces they have prepared, play some chamber music with both students and teachers and give an instrument maintenance crash course. Some of the places we visit, it seems the best we can do for the trombone students is to teach them how to clean and lubricate their slides and leave them with some slide cream.

For the rest of the day we coach the teachers of the Urubichá orchestra, many of whom are self taught, providing them with basic exercises, music, and some more knowledge about wind instrument playing, practicing and teaching, that they can pass on to their students. We beleave this to be a crucially important aspect of our efforts to support Bolivian music training, since it will create a long-term effect.

We leave a pile of music for the orchestra, as well as mouthpieces and mutes for trumpets, a box of slide cream and water spray bottles for trombones, valve oil, clarinet reeds, a Mirecourt violin bow and various equipment for strings, like bridges, pegs, strings and resin.

It was a very enjoyable and inspirational day for the sweaty and pale skinned ensemble from the north, and hopefully also for the teachers and children of the Urubichá juvenile orchestra. We finish with an hour rehearsal, tying up the last loose ends of the arrangements for our festival program, and 12 hours after leaving Trinidad we call it a day and head back to have supper with madre Ludmilla at the convent of the Urubichá cathedral.

Wednesday 23. April
Today we return to Santa Cruz, an eight (8) hour bus ride, to rehearse for out next project, the performance of restored chiquito manuscripts, with the indian choir and orchestra this evening. Long days. Happy days!