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Composer perfomer Andean music
Land of winds > Performers > Composers and performers | Issue 02. Sep.-Oct.2010
By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza

Ernesto Cavour Aramayo
Ernesto Cavour Aramayo

Born in 1940 in La Paz, Ernesto Cavour has developed a prolific career which includes diverse areas of musical work. Worldwide known as an eminent charango player, he is also a composer, a writer, a researcher, a collector, a luthier, a lecturer and an inventor.
He began his musical career as a charango soloist in 1957. He started collecting musical instruments from Bolivia and the rest of the world almost at the same time. Showing of his collection and in his own house, he created his first “Museo del charango” (The Charango Museum) in 1962. What has started as a personal enterprise intended to spread part of the Bolivian cultural heritage ended two decades later, in 1984, with the foundation of the “Museo de Instrumentos Musicales de Bolivia” (Museum of Musical Instruments of Bolivia, see), which is home for an astounding charangos collection, archaeological pre-Hispanic instruments, aerophones, membranophones and many invented or innovated elements.
In 1966 Cavour formed Los Jairas (ver) and the trio Domínguez-Favre-Cavour, with the guitarist Alfredo Dominguez and the Swiss quena player Gilbert Favre. With both bands he popularized the Andean neo-traditional music, and toured Europe between 1969 and 1971. The following year he distanced himself from these groups and started his own one, which accompanied him on the international tours. In 1973, he also created the Sociedad Boliviana del Charango (Bolivian Charango Society).
In 1974, together with singer songwriter Luis Rico, Cavour gave new impetus to the Peña Naira, an emblematic venue in La Paz, where people met for organized cultural and traditional events. Since that moment onward, he has dedicated his life to spread and promote the music of Bolivia and the different expressions associated with it. Cavour has 50 LPs and 11 CDs to his credit in addition to numerous charango, walaycho, ronrroco, quena, guitar, mandolin and siku audiovisual courses, several poems (collected in the book “El quirquincho cantor”) and a book on his many reflections titled “Pensamientos chiquitos”. Finally, he has innovated and invented a good number of instruments that move from the more eccentric ones (invasión, matracadora, mulu mulu, sinpico, charanlata) to astounding examples such as the famous ronrroco popularized by Los Kjarkas (see).
However, the main facet of Cavour’s work is that of composer and performer. He has created beautiful songs like “El vuelo del picaflor”, “Los alaracos”, the well-known “Leño verde” popularized by Rumillajta (see), “La cueca destrozada”, “Árbol chueco”, the string duets “Mis llamitas” and “Subida” (both in collaboration with the guitarist Alfredo Domínguez), the extraordinary charango solo “Paja brava”, “Piedras peregrinas”, “Río cansado”, “Rosario de uvas” and “Tres bailecitos”, among many others.
As a researcher, he has written specialized books on musical instruments such as “Instrumentos musicales de Bolivia” (see), “La zampoña: origen y evolución”, “Diccionario de los instrumentos musicales de Bolivia”, “Alasitas” and the anthology “El charango: su vida, costumbres y desventuras”, which can be free downloaded from the Internet. At present Ernesto Cavour continues being awarded prizes and honourable mentions at the same time that he organizes events and manages the Museum of Musical Instruments of Bolivia. Above all, he continues playing charango in the unique and particular way that characterizes the sound of this instrument in his hands.

Book “El charango: su vida, costumbres y desventuras”
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