Saturday, March 22, 2008

Placeres Via crucis

For much over 50 years the people of the Cerro Placeres have made at the streets and square surrounding the Nra. Sra. de Lourdes parish their traditional Via crucis viviente. Certainly, it is not the Oberammergau passion play but it is the older real folk religious play made in Chile by the parishioners with a personification of the 14th stations of the holy cross. The script was written before the Vatican II and it starts in Latin. The people recreates it using a recorded script telling all the events of the passion, and those who play the main roles are indeed people that live this via crucis as their own easter ordeal and not play just a stage rol for the via crucis.
Some photos at:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Musical instruments made in Chile and in Valparaiso are not a subject whose story has been accounted for the most part. A number of small shops have made all kind of quality musical instruments especially string instruments for over a century, but mostly under the label of the local companies who had contracted them such as Kirsinger.
Very few of these makers have left a school teaching its craft to others. Nevertheless, we do have some examples such as Nicanor Oporto in Valdivia and Anselmo Jaramillo in Pudahuel who have established themselves as maestros teaching to others for quite a while. Other recent experiences, more on the industrial stage such as Lito Benito, a former Taylor guitar company foreman making its own Lito Benito and Avalos brand folk guitars for export have failed but have left a school with a few of the former employees making quality custom guitars at their shops.
A few of these luthiers have some links in the web.
Nicanor Oporto makes traditional lutes and other antique reproductions. Anselmo Jaramillo is more focused on folk instruments such as the Chilean guitarrón. Eduardo Moreno Moore makes classical and folk guitars. Yelkon Montero makes traditional latin american instruments.

Monday, March 17, 2008

From music shop to chilean pub

Now and then, maybe the time changes the things quite a bit..... A hundred years ago, the largest music shop in the country was located at this corner of Esmeralda Street, the main commercial street at the plan of Valparaiso. A hundred years later, there are almost no real music shops in town but plently of the so called chilean pubs.... Most of them. no real pubs by
traditional european standards but rather a noisy combination of a disco or dancing hall and/or watering hole...... much beer and cocktails shots.... This one above like many others only opens at night and plays mostly electronic music. I figure out they have the rather strange municipal commercial patent or permit called locally as peña.... no real peña either. No food, just drinks and opening after 19:00 hr. and no in certain areas.... or better check this guy story

Instrumentos con Historia

Musical instruments in Chile have a long story, much of it still unrecorded. The first quality european musical instruments arrived to Chile mostly through the port of Valparaíso. Indeed there is even a street at the port, Clave keeping that name because of the number of piano and other keyboard shops set there through the earlier part of the XIX century. Kirsinger, Niemeyer, Brandt and later La Casa amarilla and Kohler were the main music shops where foreign and local made instruments were made and/or sold.
Through time many musical instruments have been left at the old houses, plus the efforts of private and public collections, and now, along with the Museo organológico de Valparaiso and the Instituto Chileno norteamericano associated with the FIMIV Festival we propose to exhibit a showcase of them along with their story as told by luthiers, collectors and performers.
Therefore, we make the official call for anybody who would like to help to show, play, or repair any musical instrument with a story linked to Chile and especially Valparaiso. Contact at
Photos: above it shows the Kirsinger shop at Esmeralda street around 1905, and below on the left some vintage string instruments : a Martin OT-18 tenor guitar (USA, 1930) at the top, a Vicente Sanchis tenor laúd (Spain, 1980) in the middle, and a Vega Little Wonder tenor banjo (USA, 1929) on the bottom.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Museo a cielo abierto

The Museo a cielo abierto is another unique museum with over 20 mural sections circling around alleys and streets of Cerro Bellavista, a few blocks down from the museo organológico. It started around 1992 (some dated to 1969) when a painter's workshop at the UCV university invited well acknowledged painters to design murals to paint walls around some alleys of the Bellavista Hill neighbourhood.
More at:

Museo organólogico

The Museo organológico de Valparaíso, an unique musical instrument museum located on 488 Ferrari street (Cerro Bellavista) a few blocks down from La Sebastiana, Neruda's house museum. It started with a CORFO semilla grant a few years ago. Indeed, it is a hidden treasure of town.
The museum houses a showcase collection of over 600 instruments. Many of them collected from old houses in town, restored and also with replicates built by its owner Fernando Ramírez (below).

Monday, March 10, 2008

Welcome Valpo

A new automatic bilingual info center is being set at the gates of the main bus station of Valparaiso. It has a nice mosaic photo map of the city.
Hopefully, it will include info on main venues and cultural affaires at the town.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

After the rain...mud?

Like in Spain ... in Valpo never rains during the summer. So, something really strange for the end of this summer was a sudden rainstorm. The result, the huge forest fire that has burned over 4000 ha. near the city subsided, but just less of 10 mm of rain in the afternoon turned some flat sections of the streets around the Av. Argentina (older estero de las Delicias underneath) into sandy mud pits that when they drained the morning after left all kinds of sedimentary ripple marks and footprints. This tell us that local drainage and sewage system can not cope with a few mm. of sudden rain, and that it needs to improve with the use of some kind of permeable pavements and better drainage especially for the areas surrounding the slopes of the hills.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Cobblestones: repairing the wrong way

Valparaiso has three original stone paving styles. "Enlosado" using schists and other metamorphic foliated rocks locally known as Lajas. "Empedrado" using smaller rounder stone pieces or cobblestones originally found most likely around streams and on the rocky shore. Finally, at least from 1856 onward the so called setts. The first ones, brought from Europe as ballast weight and originally set on the streets around the Flat (Plan) area of the port (barrio puerto). Later, locally made larger size setts with a bit more irregular shape that earlier styles being used to provide pavement on the streets and alleys of the residential areas set on the pleistocenic terraces on top of the hills. Therefore, at the end if there is no availability of the same lithologies when repairing some street sections, at least it should be used the same stoneworking styles and colours and not what is seen in the photo above.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Smoky sun

For a couple of days Valparaiso has been surrounded by a huge forest fire that has covered everything with a strange smoky & cloudy sky that at the end looked as an solar eclipse, and covered with ash debris the whole city plus part of Viña (the photos above).

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Carnavales: a decreed Festival

Since the beginning of the decade, starting a day or two after Christmas and up to the eve of the new year we host for three days the Carnavales culturales de Valparaiso, the largest national state supported popular cultural festival with a designated foreign city as a special guest. Chile is not a country with a real tradition on Carnavales so the original idea for this carnaval came with the goverment cultural officers from Santiago, and after several years in the making still there is a general feeling that most of the management and decision making is still done from the top.... The carnavales have being growing through the years with new activities under its realm to the point that at any given date of the three days of the carnaval there are many more parallel venues that require larger maps (below) with booklet programmes to help the people to find its way through it. As you could imagine logistics have not grown at the same rate so you still see growing pains there too.
But still is the question left..... a decreed festival could have a real long term social attachment to the local community?..... there is an interesting discussion on this subject on the first issue of the DVD magazine videospolarizados. The carnaval is the largest state supported cultural venue in the country.... so what we could do to make this the best carnaval with more and better culture, local participation, and less political bickering?.