In Mexico City’s working class neighborhood of Cuautepec, where stray dogs roam unpaved streets and crime is an unavoidable part of life, a new musical group has been rising up. The Garbage Orchestra, or Orquesta Basura, transforms trash into incredible musical instruments.
In December 2008 the four broke music students saw that the only way to get the instruments they needed was to make them themselves. Pillaging from local trash markets they started using their imagination. What started as a game, quickly turned into an obsession as they realized how much they could do with what they found.
The members of the orchestra are just as diverse as the material they use for their instruments. Fernando Lopez, the band leader, is the son of a comedian and jokes throughout their performances. Jair Cerda is from a family of trash collectors and spent his infancy among the stalls of city markets. Amalia Aguirre and Oscar De Jesús are just finishing off their musical studies.
Together they play violins made from PVC , guitars from old boxes, type writer accordions, casserole dish banjos and hose pipe flutes. As of now they’ve put together fifty instruments with which they play music from Jazz and tango to cha-cha-cha and Cumbia.
In 2010 the group won the Mexico City Youth award for Cultural and Artistic Activities, and they’ve played a host of venues, from schools to jazz clubs to large scale concerts in between recording their first album.
Now they’re planning to take their music through Mexico and into other countries, all the time giving courses in how to make music from trash. The heart of their message; it’s not trash, it’s whatever you make of it.