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Judi Lynn

(160,979 posts)
Thu Dec 29, 2022, 07:36 AM Dec 2022

The Musical World of Ernesto Cavour, Bolivia's Charango Maestro

Ana Díaz (Ernesto Cavour in the Museo de Instrumentos Musicales de Bolivia. La Paz, 2018)

By David Fegan 22 December, 2022

Once described as “the best in the universe” when it came to the charango, the small 10-string traditional Andean instrument, Ernesto Cavour could be found playing his beloved instrument and other musical creations at the Teatro del Charango in the highland city of La Paz every Saturday night. Sadly, the great maestro passed away in August, although I was lucky enough to interview Cavour in 2018 to discuss his colourful life, in which he succeeded in making his creative visions a beautiful musical reality.

Completely self-taught as a musician, Cavour cited “a strong and profound love and passion” as one of his biggest motivations from the moment he first picked up a charango as a boy in 1950s La Paz. His mother, who raised Cavour alone, didn’t want him to be a musician, “but I resisted and made promises,” Cavour recounted.

This wasn’t his only professional obstacle, however. “I was completely timid as a young person,” said Cavour. “I was scared to get up to the microphone and play… I found it impossible to play in public, and when I did manage to, I’d start to stutter. My voice, my fingers… nothing responded, to the point that I would play almost paralysed.”

Cavour performing in the first Student Festival of Tucumán, Argentina, 1964. Photo: Archivo Histórico del Museo de Instrumentos Musicales de Bolivia ‘Ernesto Cavour Aramayo’

But with a successful career as a soloist as well as part of renowned groups such as Los Jairas and El Trío Dominguez, Favre, Cavour, how did he overcome this? “One day, a man who came to my house with my neighbour told me: ‘You play instruments well, why don’t you join the theatre?’ And I said ‘no, I’m too scared’. And he told me that I needed to socialise with music and art, that I couldn’t just play on my own. And that’s how I ended up joining the national ballet,” explained Cavour.


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