When a person thinks of beautiful orchestral music, the image of a landfill seldom comes to mind. However a children's orchestra from Cateura, Paraguay is beginning to challenge this notion.
The Recycled Orchestra is made up of 20 Paraguayan children who have all learned to play instruments made from recycled materials they collected from a nearby landfill and this group of young musicians has captured the attention of a local Vancouver music teacher.
Nicholas Urquhart, the strings director at Killarney Secondary School, has begun collecting instruments, music supplies and money in support of the Instruments for Change campaign, a local initiative that is looking to provide the Paraguayan orchestra with proper instruments.
"The plan right now is to collect as many instruments as possible to send to them," said Urquhart. "Teachers and students around the district are also making videos sending well wishes to the kids down there."
A documentary about the Paraguayan orchestra called Landfill Harmonic is currently in the works. Urquhart says that when he showed his music students a trailer for the film, they amazed at what they saw.
"The orchestra was playing a song my students were learning," said Urquhart. "They couldn't believe that the Paraguayan kids were able to play the same songs with such different instruments."
Urquhart said watching the video and getting his students involved with the Instruments for Change program provides his students with a unique experience.
"The program is about music in one aspect, but really it's about creating a community between other people," he said.
So far several instruments have been collected through the school, as well as many different music supplies; such as strings, reeds and valve oil, have been coming in and Urquhart is hoping that people will continue to donate.
"It is difficult for schools to provide their own instruments," he said. "But if people have unused instruments lying around their homes that they don't use anymore, I'm hoping they will be generous enough to donate those."
People who still want to help and do not have any spare instruments lying around can make their way to Prussin Music on West Broadway to purchase an instrument for donation at a greatly reduced price.
If you have an instrument you would like to donate, it can be dropped off at Prussin Music at 3607 West Broadway, clearly marked with 'Music for Change', or it can be sent to Killarney Secondary School.
Donations for the Instruments for Change project will be collected until the end of June. To view the group's Facebook group, click here.