Honduran Armed Forces Connect with Youth Through Music
By Dialogo December 10, 2015This humanitarian and scientific work is magnificent which produces: military experience and training. It saves human lives and cures the ill. Also, it shows the human feeling of the Armed Forces. Great
For nearly 60 years, the Honduran Armed Forces have protected the country and given humanitarian aid to civilians. Now, they're also providing musical entertainment.
The Symphonic Orchestra of the Honduran Armed Forces, with more than 100 musicians, delivered its debut performance on October 21st, the 59th anniversary of the Military's creation.
“I greatly respect this pool of talented musicians, both the starting members and the young players that have joined us more recently,” said Maestro Leonel López, the orchestra's director, whose musical experience surpasses three decades. “I tell them how talented they are. I tell them I don’t expect any less than their best, and that has contributed to the band sounding like it does in a relatively short time.”
From martial band to orchestra
Originally a 37-member martial band, the orchestra is now composed of a multi-generational group of musicians. Some of the youngest members are not in the Military, and are recent graduates of the National Conservatory of Music and the National School of Music.
“We will expand our musical genres, and the cultural projection of the Armed Forces towards the civilian population will also grow,” said saxophonist Allan Maldonado, one of the band's more senior members.
During its performances, the orchestra plays world classics, traditional Honduran and Latin American music, contemporary pieces, and some festive rhythms of the country’s indigenous communities.
The musicians say they are enthusiastic about being part of the orchestra.
“Just to say one is a member of the Symphonic Orchestra of the Armed Forces is a source of great pride,” said Joel López, one of the newest members.
“There are few professional bands in Honduras one could aspire to join, so being part of this professional ensemble — because all of us are professionals here — is very rewarding,” added Harold Villalta, who plays the trumpet. “We are committed to do our best, mainly for our country.”
Meanwhile, flutist Cindy Valladares told the military news program Proyecciones Militares
: “I am very excited that we are the first generation of women who joined the orchestra. It is a beautiful experience, an opportunity for growth. I am very pleased to be a member of this group. It is a great door that has been opened to me.”
Connecting with the country's youth
In addition to showcasing the talents of female musicians, the orchestra is reaching out to the country's young musicians, giving those in their 20s a place to play, according to Colonel José Antonio Sánchez, an Armed Forces spokesman.
“There is so much talent in our young generation and few outlets in our country for them to pour out their capacities, so we decided to open spaces in the Armed Forces so they can contribute to and serve the nation musically,” Col. Sánchez explained. “We do not want their gifts and strengths to be wasted.”
In addition to the symphonic orchestra, the Honduran Armed Forces have three martial bands and 33 war bands, which collectively employ 400 musicians nationwide.
“It’s been our goal to support different kinds of artistic projects and we plan to continue to do so,” Col. Sánchez continued. “Besides musicians, we have and will continue to support filmmakers in national productions, and we remain open to the possibility of assisting more Hondurans so they too can excel in their artistic fields.”
The orchestra's outreach efforts extend to the entire civilian population, as it has raised $112,506 to support foundations that provide medical assistance to the sick, including the Emma Romero de Callejas Cancer Center, which has been helping cancer patients in Honduras since 1991.
“Social outreach is part of the fabric of the Honduran Armed Forces,” Col. Sánchez explained. “This is one new way we are doing it.”
In the long term, General Fredy Santiago Díaz, Chief of the Honduran Joint Chief of Staff, has high hopes for the orchestra.
“These are talented Honduran men and women who have devoted themselves with passion to their music and are now part of this group that I know will make history in Honduras,” he said.