Music rooms for 200 children in a Oaxaca shantytown
The Santa Cecilia Music School was opened in 2011, in one of the shantytowns near Oaxaca City: the initiative came from the children themselves with the support of the Catholic parish and of the community at large. Camerino Lopèz Manzano, a clarinettist from the Oaxaca Conservatory of Music, took charge. Twenty-five children became passionate about music – and vowed never to return to the streets, a life of gangs and drugs. Seven years on, the school has 130 students who have formed three instrumental ensembles, one of them a symphony orchestra, which played last year in Mexico City.
The site is south-west of Oaxaca City, a region frequented by tourists. In the shantytown of Vicente Guerrero, at the foot of the giant municipal rubbish tip, that some 14,000 indigenous people live without running water and often without electricity, in tiny shacks of corrugated iron.
Don du Choeur’s objective is to build music rooms that would allow the youngsters of the shantytown to practise individually and rehearse together in good conditions, allowing twice as many students to take courses. Today there is a crying lack of space, forcing them to play in the school’s one room or outside in an open courtyard.
From 2011: Isabelle de Boves, a French airline pilot, starts collecting used musical instruments which she takes to Oaxaca. She sets up the association La Banda de Musica to help in the development of the school.
2014 to 2016: Some lock-ups are built to stock the instruments. Two repair workshops (for wind and string instruments) are opened to the public, becoming a source of revenue for the school.
2017: The community acquires some more land, to allow the school to expand.
2018: The Don du Choeur committee visits Oaxaca to assess the enlargement project.
2019, 9 May: Don du Choeur fundraising concert at Victoria Hall, Geneva
September 2019 / March 2020: Building of two big music halls of 60 square meters. Contruction stopped due to Covid-19.
- Axel Arañó, renowned Mexican architect, will donate his services to the school enlargement project.
- The French association La Banda de Musica, which has been a partner of Santa Cecilia since 2011.
- The Fondation Air France is helping to finance the land and a part of the school enlargement costs.
You can help us keep these children of Oaxaca in education, by supporting a concrete action plan that is both needed and targeted.
Every donation, large or small, goes straight to the project.
When music saves children
Mayo, one of the young cello players of Santa Cecilia !