On April 26, at two concerts, a connection between two countries was made through music that enhanced appreciation of our art and brought young people together. Partners of the Americas, in North Carolina and Bolivia, have cultural exchange programs for US and South American students in music and other disciplines. We of course are concerned with music. Duke University String School was asked to be part of an exchange involving the Orange Charter School of Hillsborough, NC (Musical Director, Shelley Livingston, and Principal Dr. Charles Nolan), and Partners of the Americas (sponsored by Ruth Quiton of Bolivia and Sallie Abbas of Raleigh).
On Saturday, April 26, in Baldwin Auditorium, on Duke’s East Campus, the Bolivian group, from the Laredo Institute of Cochabamba (the capital of Bolivia), played in two concerts, one with the DUSS’ Intermediate Orchestra, under the direction of Shelley Livingston (who, in addition to service as Artistic Director of the Orange Charter School, is Conductor of Intermediate I, the grade school and junior high level of the DUSS). In the evening, the ten Bolivians played Mozart, Bach, and Joplin with the Intermediate II Orchestra, led by Stephanie Swisher; with this orchestra, violin soloists Alexandra Stamler and Hope Yao, both age 11, played the third movement of Bach’s Double Concerto in D Minor.

On the same program, the Bolivians also played with the Chamber Orchestra of DUSS, which I direct. This group opened with Viotti’s Concerto No. 22, featuring violinist Tian-Jiao Quiao, 11, who came here from China two years ago. Next, violinist Eliza Bagg, 12, played the first movement of Barber’s Concerto. Finally, Last Round, a nonet by Argentinean composer Osvaldo Golijov, now settled in Boston and making “the big scene” everywhere. Last summer, at the Cape & Islands Festival on Cape Cod, Golijov himself suggested that the DUSS group try this truly difficult piece, which has been played by the Borromeo and Kuss Quartets (and recorded by the St. Lawrence). The young people made the Tango fierce and fascinating, the Aria, reflective and quiet, and handled the many rhythms with understanding. Everyone also joined together to perform the Scherzo from Dvorák’s Serenade. At the end, the visitors, several of whom are also members of the Orquesta Sinfonica of Cochabamba, played “Evocation India,” a compendium of Bolivian rhythms and melodies by Victor Jimenez Garcia, arranged by Miguel Ulises Jimenez.
The experience at Duke, where more than 250 people played in the concerts, and where there was a full house for the evening and afternoon events, was remarkable in that there were absolutely no unusual qualities to the rehearsals. They moved as smoothly as if these young people had been present on a permanent basis. Although translators were present, they were not needed. Students pointed to the places chosen, and faces were read. A few Spanish words were known by the Americans and many English words known by the Bolivians. The conductors traded places with the ease of long friendship, which in fact was only one week: the Bolivians arrived a week earlier, rehearsed with Shelley Livingston and me at OCS and had two 1-1/2-hour rehearsals with DUSS, and then went to Washington to play two concerts and sightsee, returning Friday evening. On Sunday after the Baldwin Auditorium concerts, the Bolivians played with the Durham Symphony. There was a master class with the Ciompi Quartet on Monday and two performances with the Orange Charter School Symphony, one at Exploris on Tuesday morning, and another at Ebenezer Baptist Church on Tuesday evening.
Exceptional support and cooperation from all concerned, and especially from Livingston, the Partners organization, DUSS conductors and students, the Ciompi Quartet, and Alan Neilson and the Durham Symphony made this reciprocal visit possible: OCS string players had been in Cochabamba in 2002, where they experienced comparable cooperation and excitement.
I write to urge the media and the public to note and savor the educational and social values that active musical participation offers young people and the unique opportunities these exchanges can provide. A small notice in the Hillsborough newspaper and this report appear to be the only public reports on this exceptional event. It is important to keep this line of communication open among those who are aware of the enrichment provided all people by musical experiences. We can counter violence and superficial activity by enhancing musical awareness among our young people. In a sense, music and its performers and audiences are at once true revolutionaries and conservatives, together.

Dorothy Kitchen, Director, Duke University String School
Durham, NC
[Reposted with corrections and additions 5/12&15/03.]