Date: Sun, 4 Oct 98 20:05:43 CDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Rich Winkel)
Subject: MUSIC-CHILE: Remembering Victor Jara
/** 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)
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