[Documents menu] Documents menu
Date: Sun, 4 Oct 98 20:05:43 CDT
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: MUSIC-CHILE: Remembering Victor Jara
Article: 44523
To: undisclosed-recipients:;y Message-ID: <bulk.29991.19981005061639@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/** ips.english: 526.0 **/
** Topic: MUSIC-CHILE: Remembering Victor Jara **
** Written 4:08 PM Oct 2, 1998 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **
Copyright 1998 InterPress Service, all rights reserved.
Worldwide distribution via the APC networks.

Remembering Victor Jara

By Gustavo Gonzalez, IPS
29 September 1998

Jara was detained on the Sept. 11 in 1973. He is said to have kept on singing 'Venceremos' (We shall overcome) - the anthem of Allende's ruling Popular Front - and the police reportedly reacted by breaking his hands with their rifle butts so that he would never be able to play the guitar again. He was shot to death on Sep. 16 at the age of 40.

His body was then abandoned in the outskirts of Santiago. It was later found and identified by a resident of a slum who then notified his wife, the ballerina Joan Jara.

The detention and murder of Victor Jara was partially reconstructed in the film "Llueve sobre Santiago" (Rain over Santiago), shot in France and Bulgaria by Helvio Soto in 1973. Later, in the then East Germany, late U.S. singer Dean Reed portrayed Jara in a film that was never shown in Chile.

On the 25th Anniversary of his murder, 60,000 signatures were collected for a petition to have the Estadio Chile (Chile Stadium - where he was killed) renamed the Victor Jara Stadium. The facility, turned into a prison in 1973 but now used for sports and artistic events, is state owned and administered by the General Directorate of Sports and Recreation.

Its director, Julio Riutort, had said at one time that he approved the change but changed his mind and is now offering to rename only a part of the stadium.

This was rejected, on Sep. 23, by the Victor Jara Artistic and Cultural Center, whose director, Jose Osorio, termed it an outrageous proposal, and by the Teacher's College, the Student Federation of the University of Chile, and a group of parliamentarians who will now try to obtain the name change through the courts.

Jara was born in 1932 in a humble home in Lonquen, a rural municipality near Santiago, to Manuel Jara and his wife Amanda, herself a popular singer. He learned Gregorian chants at the Redeemer Seminary of San Bernardo and, in 1953, at age 21, he joined the University of Chile Choir, while starting lifelong research into folklore.

Jara also had a strong background in the scenic arts, which led him to join the Mime Company of Noisvander in 1956 and to study theatrical direction at the University of Chile, where he graduated in 1962.

In 1960, Jara combined his love of drama and music in his first big success, 'Paloma quiero contarte' based on the style of the popular chant, and he also created the Cucumen Group. His life was full of musical achievements. In 1966, he recorded his first solo album and began to work with the group Quilapayan. Later, in 1969, he went on to win the First Chilean New Song Festival with his song 'Plegaria de un Labrador' (A Farmer's Prayer).

He also maintained an active theatrical career. Between 1963 and 1970, he was director of the Theatrical Institute of the University of Chile, where he also taught acting up to 1967.

Jara was an assistant of Pedro de la Barra, a legendary director of Chilean theatre. In 1965, he directed and put to music 'La remolienda' by playwright Alejandro Sieveking, a production that attracted much attention and critical acclaim.

In addition to reaping a harvest of successful musical endeavours, Jara also organized Viet-Rock, a rock-opera about the Vietnam War, and Sophocles' Antigone, while a visiting professor at the Theatre School of the Catholic University. Skilled in various artistic fields, Jara never gave up his love of folklore, a characteristic which defined one of his last creative endeavours, 'La Poblacion,' an album considered by critics as his richest and most complex musical work.

The material of 'La Poblacion' was based on testimonies that Jara himself compiled from residents of Herminda de la Victoria, a housing project for the homeless erected on wasteland in Santiago. As a cultural worker, he joined the Communications Department of the State Technical University in 1971, along with Isabel Parra, the daughter of Violeta, and the group Inti-Illimani, who to this day consider Jara their mentor.

Victor Jara was heading for a normal day's work at the University that September day 25 years ago. Like many other Chileans, he was completely unaware of the encounter with death that awaited him.



---- [c] 1998, InterPress Third World News Agency (IPS)
All rights reserved

May not be reproduced, reprinted or posted to any system or service outside of the APC networks, without specific permission from IPS. This limitation includes distribution via Usenet News, bulletin board systems, mailing lists, print media and broadcast. For information about cross- posting, send a message to <wdesk@ips.org>. For information about print or broadcast reproduction please contact the IPS coordinator at <online@ips.org>.

[World History Archives]     [Gateway to World History]     [Images from World History]     [Hartford Web Publishing]