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The Recycled Orchestra

When we think of an “orchestra”, we picture musicians dressed in tuxedos playing expensive instruments in famous Concern Halls.  But there is one musical ensemble that is made up of kids who playing instruments that are literally “trash”.

This ensemble is the “Recycled Orchestra” and they perform in Cateura, Paraguay and are the  subject of a documentary film.

Cateura is not really a town but a slum near Paraguay’s capital city, Asunción and families there make their living scavenging trash to resale. The “Recycled Orchestra” was founded 10 years ago by Favio Chavez, an environmental engineer working in Cateura. He saw that there were a lot of children there and had the idea to “teach them music in my free time”.

The result was “The Recycled Orchestra”. Since there was nothing in Cateura but trash, and no money, he recruited a carpenter to make the “orchestra’s” instruments for his group out of stuff from the landfill.

The orchestra’s violins are made out of cans, wooden spoons and bent forks. Cellos are made from oil drums, string pegs were created from old cooking utensils and even the heel of a worn-out women’s shoe. Drum heads are made from old X-ray film. A saxophone is made out of a drainpipe, melted copper, coins, spoon handles, cans and bottle caps.

Eventually, a film team made a short video to raise money for the , and the video went viral!

Since then, the Recycled Orchestra has performed for politicians, monarchs and even Pope Francis. The group can play Paraguayan folk music, as well as Mozart and even Frank Sinatra, and these young musicians from the slums have also backed up Stevie Wonder, Metallica and Megadeth.