So after a long month without internet, it's time to catch you all up!
May was pretty special and awesome, due to it being Paraguay's bicentenary. Technically the independence day was May 14th and 15th, but this year it was definitely a celebration all month long. (In fact, there are still lots of decorations up all over town.) All of the buildings are draped in red, white, and blue banners, there are stickers and buttons and signs all over everything. It was like a whole month of the Fourth of July, except that people were genuinely excited about their country and not just about the beer and fireworks. ;)
As musicians, we were kept busy with a ton of extra concerts. It was really fun to get to play Paraguayan folk music so much. I hadn't really been exposed to much of it before this month - for my musician friends, the melodies are generally happy, syncopated, and in 6/8, with walking-like bass lines in 3/4. We also did an extra concert of famous opera arias, and a concert that featured Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture (complete with cannons borrowed from one of the military branches) and the premiere of a new work by our conductor that celebrates an important figure in Paraguay's history. It was a crazy busy month, but so much fun!
On the actual independence days (there are always two here), all the roads downtown were closed and the streets flooded with people. There were all kinds of shows and concerts and lights and fireworks and the whole nine yards - it was quite a sight in a downtown that's generally pretty sleepy at night!
As a member of the orchestra, playing for a lot of these events, it was really cool to experience all of the bicentenary celebrations from the inside. Not just watching the speakers, but sitting behind them on stage while they spoke to the crowds. Not just attending the celebration, but contributing to it. Not just watching the Paraguayans celebrate their country, but celebrating it myself at the same time and falling in love with it right along with everyone else. It was so easy to get caught up in the excitement of it all - everyone seemed so genuinely proud of their country, and it was so special to be a part of that.
Two days after our last bicentenario concert, I headed to Buenos Aires with a friend . . . and that is what I'll tell you about next time.
To conclude, here are some bicentenario pictures that I have stolen from other people on the internet: