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Volume 15, Number 1
January 12, 2008

Panama Jazz Festival special

Also in this issue's culture section:
Photography, José Ponce's urban scenes
Panama Jazz Festival schedule
Sparky the Wonder Dog
Poets' Corner
More muñeco photos
Music videos, An online inauguration concert



The  festival 's arts education starts with the young ones

2009 Panama Jazz Festival underway
photos and story by Eric Jackson

"From the beginning, the Panama Jazz Festival was something unique, because of its orientation toward the youth," Panama City Mayor Juan Carlos Navarro explained. Describing the festival as the "backbone" of musical education in Panama, the mayor noted that it has been a "priceless" opportunity to show off the city, especially the historic Casco Viejo, but said that to him, it's something much more: "Year after year, I have come to the Jazz Festival and supported it, but not only have I attended, I have always come away with a sense of wonder and awe."


Patricia Zarate, a Chilean, a noteworthy sax player and
a music professor, directs the festival's educational clinics

Tourism Minister Ruben Blades, a notable entertainer himself, opined that "we still can't know the effect of these efforts on our youth. It's not easy to compete in a system where there are so many talented people and so few opportunities."

So how is it affecting tourism? Blades said that the Panama Tourism Authority doesn't directly collect the statistics, but it will be getting figures from hotels, airlines and other sources that will allow the organization to estimate the extent of the phenomenon, but added that publicity for the festival is reaching all over the world, to the extent that he found that people he met in Europe knew about it.

To European music fans, however, it's an event like many other jazz festivals. But the educational part of it --- the clinics, the auditions, the chance for a few young prodigies to be discovered and perform before an international audience --- is the larger and fastest-growing part.

Patricia Zarate, the musician and professor who heads the festival's educational clinics, pointed out that for her and many other volunteers "the festival is a culmination of our year's activity." The government has recently given the Danilo Perez Foundation, the organization behind the jazz festivals, the old conservatory building on Plaza Herrera in the Casco Viejo, and with the new headquarters those activities are going to increase. Zarate invited artists and others with talents and time to give to come to the foundation and volunteer to lend a hand with its projects.


Milagros Blades is one of the brilliant young talents who
was discovered at a previous Panama Jazz Festival

Danilo Pérez, whose young daughter was having a wonderful time running playing with the adults and kids assembled at the Panama Canal Authority's Ala Gerencial in the old Balboa High (now the Ascanio Arosemena Educational Center), expressed similarly parental attitudes about the festival he founded and directs. "We have this baby we're trying to raise. It's about talent ("talento" in the Spanish he was using) but 'ta lento  ("está lento" or it's slow, in Panamanian Spanish)."

"I'm in a missionary mode," Pérez told the assembled reporters. "When you commit to that, you can never stop --- that's the way it is."



 

Also in this issue's culture section:
Photography, José Ponce's urban scenes
Panama Jazz Festival schedule
Sparky the Wonder Dog
Poets' Corner
More muñeco photos
Music videos, An online inauguration concert



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Find the boat of your dreams through Evermarine ---
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© 2008 by Eric Jackson
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Individual contributors retain the rights to their articles or photos

email: editor@thepanamanews.com or

e_l_jackson_malo@yahoo.com

Cell phone: (507) 6-632-6343

Mailing address:
Eric Jackson
att'n The Panama News
Apartado 0831-00927 Estafeta Paitilla
Panamá, República de Panamá