The Baroque Music Festival, which takes place every 2 years on even-numbered years, is one of the most sought-after tours in Bolivia. This Festival is one of the most extensive in Bolivia and takes place during the month of May in over 20 Jesuit Mission towns (simultaneously!) located throughout the Amazon jungle regions of Chiquitos, Guarayos and Moxos, Bolivia. In fact, it covers over 3000 square kilometers of area within Bolivia's two eastern-most departments of Beni and Santa Cruz.
Six Jesuit Mission towns were declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity sites by UNESCO in 1990, which also classified them as "living towns". (Although the Jesuit Missions were established nearly 500 years ago they are still inhabited), unlike the Jesuit missions of Paraguay and Brazil, most of which are now ancient ruins.
Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos
(established between 1691 and 1767) and of Moxos (1681 – 1767) were built by Jesuit missionaries from Spain and Italy. During the restoration of the temples of several of these towns in the 1970’s, an astounding 10,000 sheets of hand scored baroque music from the 17th and 18th centuries were discovered in the temples. These are some of the mission towns portrayed in the movie The Mission (Robert De Niro, Jeremy Irons).
APAC (Asociación Pro Arte y Cultura, or the Association for Arts and Culture) was established in
Santa Cruz de la Sierra
to promote the culture and traditions of this region. APAC organizes the “Misiones de Chiquitos International Baroque and Renaissance Music Festival” each even-numbered year and the “Santa Cruz de la Sierra International Theater Festival” each odd-numbered year, to promote the cultural and artistic heritage of the Bolivian lowlands. (Unlike the Andean highlands of Bolivia where the predominant cultures are Aymara and Quechua, Eastern Bolivia is home to over 20 completely different cultures, among them the Guarani, Guarayos, Moxos, Chiquitanos, and many others.) Unknown to most foreigners, over 28 of Bolivia's 36 native cultures inhabit the northern and eastern tropics of Bolivia. Many have very reduced populations and their languages and cultural expressions are at risk of being lost forever.
“APAC considers culture to be an invaluable investment to make it possible to reshape a community’s destiny”. To preserve this heritage, and share the Chiquitos and Moxos musical archives with the world, since 1996 APAC has organized this festival every two years. Musicians and orchestras from around the world participate. Considered one of Bolivia’s most important cultural events, the concerts take place in several places along the Jesuit Mission circuit deep in Bolivia’s dense tropical forest. One of the most famous of these groups is Florilegium, which is well-known throughout Europe.
In accompaniment to festival, APAC organizes a scientific encounter called the “International Musicology Symposium” where historians, researchers and musicologists can participate in discussions on ancient music. APAC publishes and distributes the presentations made at these encounters.
Today, orchestras and choirs exist in fifteen mission towns and in the city of Santa Cruz. Many of the young people who play in these orchestras have traveled extensively to foreign countries to perform. Entry fees to these concerts are very, very inexpensive. If you can't take an actual tour to one of the jungle towns (it's an amazing experience) then don't miss one of the orchestras or choirs scheduled to play in the city of Santa Cruz.
Concerts are given in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, the Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos, the Jesuit Missions of Moxos, and the Franciscan Missions of
The Baroque Music Festival also includes ancient baroque art exhibits, handcraft exhibits and sales, and short theater or typical indigenous dance exhibits in certain towns.
APAC – Asociacion Pro Arte y Cultura Casilla (PO Box) 3673 Calle Beni 228 Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia Tel: (591-3) 333-2287
FLORILEGIUM IN CONCERT IN THE JESUIT MISSIONS OF CHIQUITOS – BAROQUE MUSIC FESTIVAL, BOLIVIAN SOLOISTS
ESCUELAS Y MAESTROS DE MÚSICA BARROCA EN LA REGIÓN DE CHIQUITOS, BOLIVIA – VIDEO SUPER INFORMATIVO EN ESPAÑOL
APAC organizes a national Baroque Music Festival and Theater Festival in the Jesuit Missions, usually in August. These are called the Festivales de Temporada (Seasonal Festivals). Ruta Verde Bolivia organizes tours to the Jesuit Missions. For a history (English subtitles) of these towns and their music
watch this documentary.