Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Cartagena International Music Festival

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Every January, over 20,000 music enthusiasts descend upon the picturesque coastal city of Cartagena, Colombia, for the annual Cartagena International Music Festival (CIMF). Over the course of eight days, renowned musicians from across the globe fill the city’s plazas, churches and theaters with classical music.

It’s not just the Caribbean locale and classical music that make this festival special.

The CIMF, founded three years ago by Italian-American harpist Victor Salvi and his wife, Julia, a Colombia native and arts devotee, is dedicated to introducing Colombians, especially young people, to the masterpieces of classical composers. 

“The [visiting] musicians are a model for our young people, showing them how far they can go,” says Sandra Meluk, executive director of Fundación Salvi Colombia, the festival’s founding organization.

The CIMF’s motto—“Music Is For Everyone”—underscores festival week. Residents of the city’s low-income neighborhoods can attend free concerts, and there are also master classes for nearly 400 young artists. But the festival also serves as a catalyst for music education and performance through the year. Forty students received music scholarships from the foundation in 2009, and approximately 100 classes are offered to the public year-round. Bogotá’s Monserrate Quartet, featured in the 2009 festival’s “Young Talent Program,” performed at Stanford University last June.

Listen to Selections from Artists Performing at the 2010 Festival

Hsin-Yun Huang: “Mozart Symphonia Concertante”

Stephen Prutsman: “Bach Pista”

Puerto Candelaria: “Vuelta Canela”

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Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
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