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PHOENIX: June 25, 2013 Download this press release >

Paraguay’s Recycled Orchestra Set to Make US Debut at the Musical Instrument Museum August 9 and 10

Youth Group Will Participate In Public & Private Events While Sharing Their Incredible Story

PHOENIX (June 25, 2013) The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) is bringing Paraguay’s Recycled Orchestra to Phoenix for its US debut on August 9 and 10. The group will lead school partnership workshops with local students, perform two public concerts at the MIM Music Theater and participate in a public Family Day celebration.

The Recycled Orchestra was founded in Cateura, Paraguay, by visionary music teacher Favio Chávez. In this shantytown built on a landfill, families survive by collecting and reselling garbage. Chavez gathered a team to search the landfill for usable materials and create instruments, such as violins, flutes, drums and cellos, from recycled trash. In just a few years, their program has led to a thriving music school and a youth orchestra that performs internationally. The orchestra is also the subject of a documentary, Landfill Harmonic, which is slated to be released in 2014.

In March, MIM installed an exhibit featuring eight of the group’s innovative instruments, all donated by the executive producers of Landfill Harmonic. Made with items such as metal oil barrels, tin paint cans, old x-ray films, coins, bottle caps, spoons and plastic buttons, these instruments prove that poverty doesn’t preclude a life rich in music. In its short time on display, the Recycled Orchestra exhibit has quickly become a favorite among museum guests.

Because the Recycled Orchestra’s story resonates so well with MIM’s mission, the museum is bringing the group’s members to Phoenix to share their incredible stories, their passion and their joyful music in an unparalleled weekend of activities. At MIM, guests encounter a deep human truth: across the entire world, people have an intrinsic need to make music. More than this, rare and superbly creative people, like the youthful members of the Recycled Orchestra, can show us how the earnest drive to preserve the important role of music can lead to remarkable innovations such as instruments hewn from trash.

The group’s visit begins with a private instrument-making workshop with students from Arizona School for the Arts (ASA) and multimedia artist Joe Willie Smith on Thursday, August 8. Approximately 30 students from ASA and 14 members of the Recycled Orchestra will tour a local recycling center in conjunction with the City of Phoenix Department of Public Works and then will work together to create new instruments—or “sonic sculptures” constructed from recycled objects. Students from ASA will be invited to play both their traditional orchestral instruments and experimental recycled instruments alongside the Recycled Orchestra during their two public concerts. On Friday, August 9, the orchestra will take part in MIM’s Artist Residency Program. As part of this school partnership event, members of the Recycled Orchestra will perform for students from Herrera Elementary School. Following the performance, the students from Herrera will have time to tour MIM.

A variety of activities will offer the public a chance to celebrate the youth group’s story. On Friday, August 9, and Saturday, August 10, the Recycled Orchestra will perform in ticketed concerts at the MIM Music Theater. Tickets range from $22.50 to $42.50 and are on sale now. Sponsorship opportunities are also available.

The Recycled Orchestra’s visit will culminate in a Family Day celebration. On Saturday, August 10, MIM will host a full day of activities honoring the Recycled Orchestra, all free with museum admission. The day’s events will include performances by the Recycled Orchestra and multimedia artist Joe Willie Smith, the formal dedication of the Recycled Orchestra exhibit, recycled instrument crafts for children, an instrument drive held in conjunction with Ear Candy Charity and more fun and inspirational activities.

Dr. Daniel Piper, MIM’s curator for Latin America and the Caribbean, has been working with the Landfill Harmonic film team to create the museum’s exhibit and has been the driving force behind bringing the Recycled Orchestra to MIM. “These marvelous instruments and the youth music program in Cateura, Paraguay, represent a noteworthy innovation and social achievement in the world of music,” said Piper. “The exhibit and August residency with the Recycled Orchestra is MIM’s way of recognizing their achievements as we invite the community to celebrate youth, social and musical innovation, and the sustaining value of the arts.”

MIM is currently raising funds to assist with the travel costs for the group. Donations can be made online or by calling MIM’s development team at 480.478.6062.

The Musical Instrument Museum is located at 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard in Phoenix (corner of Tatum and Mayo Boulevards, just south of Loop 101). For general museum information and a full schedule of events, visit or call480.478.6000.


About MIM
MIM celebrates music as a sustaining human gift and enriches world culture by collecting, preserving and exhibiting a wide variety of musical instruments and performance videos from every country in the world. MIM also fosters appreciation of diverse cultures by showing that we all innovate, adapt and learn from each other to create music – the universal language.

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Media Contact
Erin Miller, Media Relations Manager, MIM