It was during the interval of a Ligeti Qaurtet concert in Brighton earlier this year where I was amazed to watch a short introductory trailer for a movement known as the Post War Orchestra screening in the venue.

The Post War Orchestra essentially recycle weaponry turning them into musical instruments. This was the first time I had become aware of such a practice and became fascinated by the acoustics of the different materials used to create the instruments. I was left wondering about the potential of the different timbres that could be created from the weapons.

PWO Intro from Post War Orchestra on Vimeo.

I had spent some after the concert reading into the orchestra as I really wanted to attend a performance, but being busy completing my degree, the orchestra quickly slipped my mind. I was however quickly reminded of this idea of recycling materials into instruments when I saw some pictures posted by Classic FM which showed and briefly discussed an orchestra called the “Landfill Harmonic” in Cateura, Paraguay, who were performing with instruments made entirely from landfill waste! 

After digging deeper and watching the video above, I found a far deeper message behind these pictures than just the creation of instruments and wanted to write a blog post documenting what I had found. Cateura is a poverty-stricken, landfill town which receives more than 1,500 tonnes of waste each day, many young children are forced to work on the landfills and left with little or no hope of a better life. This changed when ecological technician Favio Chávez began using the landfill waste to create instruments that the local children could play, this founded the entire recycled orchestra project!

I think this is a truly amazing project which has given the children in Paraguay something to focus on, it seems to be building a musical community with new music schools being formed where kids are given an opportunity to connect creatively and perform to their relatives and friends.

I further discovered that a successful Kickstarter project has just ended which will not only allow filmmakers to document two of the most vital issues of our times, poverty and waste pollution, but give the children in the orchestra the chance to tour overseas performing with their instruments. This will hopefully inspire other organizations and individuals to join in support the movement. I hope you will read more, follow and support the movement on Facebook, and check out the Kickstarter Project for more information on the documentary.

These videos reminded me that music truly is a human and universal language and it has the power to promote positivity even in the worse of circumstances, if the orchestra are set to perform anywhere near me in the future, I’ll be sure to get a ticket!

To end, I thought I would share another video link i found on Facebook of a man literally ‘playing’ a bed frame producing a flute-like timbre. Enjoy!