The story of a shanty town – in song
An international line-up of musicians celebrated Victor Jara’s groundbreaking album, La Población – ‘The Neighbourhood’ – at the zoom event hosted by the El Sueño Existe festival. Artists as diverse as Chilean singer and songwriter Alejandro Reyes, who was a musical collaborator with Victor in the group Cuncumen, and one of Chile’s foremost contemporary folk bands, Los Hermanos Millar, joined forces with other Latin American and British musicians to re-interpret the songs made famous when the revolutionary album appeared in 1972. It traced the land seizure, birth and day-to-day struggles of the shanty town of Herminda de la Victoria, close to the capital, Santiago, and gave voice to the courageous, determined people who made it their home. Fifty years on Herminda is still thriving, and our presentation included specially recorded interviews with current pobladores, and film showing the historic trajectory of a proud community.
Among other musical contributions to the evening, indigenous Mapuche children sang a song from La Población under the guidance of renowned Chilean musicologist Nancy San Martín, and youngsters from the south London Latin American orchestra, ECCO, gave their take on another. There was a special message too from Amanda, Victor’s daughter from The Victor Jara Foundation in Chile, as we pay tribute to an album that was a unique musical achievement, and a social document that still resonates all too clearly today.
Watch a short video publicising the event here:
You can listen to the album, which Victor researched and wrote within the urban Community of Herminda de la Victoria, (Santiago) on Youtube here: