Ecuador children's orchestra highlighted in upcoming global service
The upcoming global worship service, A Celebration of Grace, will feature more than 70 musicians and 30 different singers from around the globe, including 60 members of Orquesta Infanto Juvenil, a youth orchestra from Ecuador’s Sierra Centro District. The orchestra, led by Cesar Carranza, will open the service with a rendition of Amazing Grace.
In total, there are 350 students across 10 churches that participate in this program. Many of the children come from difficult backgrounds in their home lives, but they are able to find purpose in learning to play their instruments and using their musical talent to glorify the Lord.
The orchestra’s version of Amazing Grace opens with two young flute players, Valeria and Dustin. Valeria learned to play flute before even owning the instrument. Carranza drew a flute on a piece of paper and taught her the fingerings for each note. When she learned how to read music and finger along, he introduced the breathing technique. Once she had all of these things down, Carranza was finally able to find a flute that she could play.
“If I’m sad or if I have a problem, as soon as I play music it brightens my day,” Valeria said. “It makes me forget the bad moments and motivates me to keep on moving in life.”
Dustin and Valeria have been pushing each other to improve since they joined, each making the other a better musician through their personal competitions.
During the pandemic, Carranza has not been able to travel to the churches to give lessons and teach the students. Instead, Carranza has used an online platform to record classes for the students, who then upload a video of themselves playing so Carranza can track their progress.
Carranza told the story of a young cellist who experienced discrimination in the past.
“He said he was useless and that he wasn’t good at music,” Carranza said. “He happened to be really, really good at music, and he has changed the way he sees himself. He respects himself more. He doesn’t feel like he’s less. He identified with a group and he is now moving forward.”
In 2013, Carranza was conducting the philharmonic orchestra in Chiclayo, Peru. Sierra Centro District Superintendent Mario Paredes, who had always dreamed of using music to reach people, was able to meet Carranza through a mutual friend and pitch his idea to Carranza, who was skeptical at first.
“I asked what level were they,” Carranza said. “Could they even read music? What kind of instruments do they have? So, I went to ask, and said, ‘Do you have a French horn, an oboe, a bassoon?’ They said they had nothing. So I said I would talk to Mario, but I had to pray first. I said, ‘God, I have a philharmonic orchestra, a big orchestra that I am leading, but it’s not an orchestra that plays for You.’”
Ultimately, Carranza felt that the Lord was calling him to assist in this project, and he left the philharmonic to work with the Sierra Centro District in 2018.
“We didn’t have the instruments but we had the vision,” Carranza said. “The vision is to create a big orchestra and for each church to have their own orchestra.”
To learn more about the Orquesta Infanto Juvenil, click here.
A Celebration of Grace will be broadcast in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Korean every hour for 24 hours beginning 26 June at 10 p.m. UTC. For more info on A Celebration of Grace, click here.