The Sweet Music Of Hope In Violent Ciudad Juárez
June 16, 2011

The name of the orchestra, “Esperanza Azteca”, means “Aztec Hope.” These children, ranging from 6 to 18 years old, live in the city that's been dubbed Mexico's murder capital.

Drug related violence has transformed the youth of Ciudad Juárez into a recruiting pool for criminals and killers. The kids in this ensemble said they want a different kind of future.

“I think this orchestra is really cool (because) it helps you learn music,” said 11-year-old Luis Reynoso, who plays the clarinet. “And I've been getting better grades in school.”

This group is part of a national program funded by Mexico's second largest television network, “TV Azteca”. It involves some 5,000 children spread across 23 states.

Photo by Mónica Ortiz Uribe
Members of the Azteca Sangre Orchestra play during the group's debut concert in June in Ciudad Juárez.

Guillermo Quesada, the conductor of the orchestra in Juárez, said the kids are committed to improving their musical skills.

“The kids are there all the time. All the time,” Quesada said. “I thought from the beginning that we would have a few show up and then a lot quit, because of the hours. But, instead, nobody's quit!”

The kids who play come from the humblest of “barrios” to country club mansions. Ten months ago, many of them had never even picked up an instrument.

For their debut, the 220-member orchestra played “Oh Fortuna” by Carl Orff. Many hope that these children and their music will lift the fortunes of this battered city.

rmo Quesada, the conductor of the orchestra in Juárez, said the kids are committed to improving their musical skills.

“The kids are there all the time. All the time,” Quesada said. “I thought from the beginning that we would have a few show up and then a lot quit, because of the hours. But, instead, nobody's quit!”

The kids who play come from the humblest of “barrios” to country club mansions. Ten months ago, many of them had never even picked up an instrument.

For their debut, the 220-member orchestra played “Oh Fortuna” by Carl Orff. Many hope that these children and their music will lift the fortunes of this battered city.