In May of 2013, I was hired by the Ministry of Culture of Ecuador to be the curator of the contemporary music festival of that year. The festival was a big scale project that included the participation of the 4 main symphony orchestras of Ecuador’s main cities (Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca, Loja). The current situation of Ecuador’s music culture is difficult to work with as there are no cultural policies that establish the independent production of events. The ministry works in a centralized way with no specialized departments that truly understand the musical situation inside and outside of Ecuador. This causes a lot of misunderstanding of how the music policies should work.
The first challenge I encountered for this project was the definition of contemporary music. This is a heated discussion in every part of the world and today anyone can adopt the term “contemporary music” to describe their work. This caused a problem to the general aesthetics of the works submitted for which I decided to describe some main characteristics of contemporary music while trying not to discriminate styles or areas of research. By describing this better, the decisions made with the selected pieces can be justified while offering transparency to my selection, as I was a public employee and felt that was the right thing to do.
After defining the basis for the festival the production of the event continued with the logistics. Unfortunately, the political situation tampered with the autonomy to plan this event I had to battle bureaucratic issues almost daily. The cultural monopoly was a difficult problem to tackle as well. Conductors were very difficult to work with as the rejection to experimental, contemporary music is a common thing. This forced me to promote the festival as well as to inform the audience how this style of music and expression has generated music and technological advances that are with us in our day to day life.
Putting aside the organization problems, the festival programmed 12 concerts in the 4 cities involved. It included music by distinguished Ecuadorian composers such as Mesías Maiguashca, Juan Campoverde, Eduardo Flores among others. The event also gave an opportunity to invite composers to give talks and workshops and we were lucky to have artists such as Julían Quintero and Juan Campoverde give workshops of different types of composition techniques and aesthetics.
The ECV2013 was one of the most demanding and difficult project I have ever worked on. The musical situation in Ecuador is alarming, the country is full of talent but there is no clear musical and cultural policy to help promote every type of music. This is crucial as it is the lack of diversity the main cause of intolerance and misunderstanding. The contemporary artistic practices are very important to the cultural and intellectual development of society, creativity and experimentation are always behind in every intellectual breakthrough. In Ecuador, this is hard to explain as our education system is still mistakenly sculpted out of an antiquated form of thinking. It is urgent that this changes but if you have political corruption and a lack of appreciation and education the situation will never shift.