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The rich baroque music history of Sucre

The Capital City of Bolivia, Sucre, preserves Latin America’s biggest collection of baroque music scores of the colonial époque. La Plata, how it was called in those times, was the seat of the Real Audiencia of Charcas, with important government, judicial and military functions for a region that nowadays covers south of Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay and a big part of Argentina. It counted with an important Jesuit University.

This historical treasure was conserved over the years, while in other historic places, like Lima, Peru, a lot of materials got destroyed by fires and other disasters. Among the compositions are those of anonymous and known (like Pedro Ximénez de Abril y Tirado, Juan de Araujo, Antonio Durán de la Mota and Blas Tardío Guzmán) authors of the XVII and XVIII centuries that never have been interpreted, at least not in the last few hundred years. They were composed for the use of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Sucre and the Convent of San Felipe Neri. Most is baroque, but also pieces of romantic and renascence stiles exist.

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The challenge of recovering and interpreting these scores is gigantic, but has been taken up in earlier years with support of UNDP and UNESCO and recently by different national institutions, like the National Archive and Library (ABNB) and the Cultural Foundation of the Central Bank of Bolivia. The success of the biannual baroque music festival in the Chiquitania Missions, in the eastern lowlands of Bolivia, has been of great inspiration. Most scores have now been properly catalogued by the ABNB.

In April 2012 a first 4-days festival was organized in Sucre, in the historical House of Liberty, where national and international artist interpreted some of the revealed music. From then on, the festival is repeated annually in the month of April. The aim is to discover and interpret new scores in the coming years, so that Sucre´s legacy of baroque music can be fully appreciated by humankind and at the same time this legacy can give a new impulse to the development of cultural tourism and the local economy.

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