Virginia Jara was 10 when she took up violin.
The only place she could take lessons was at the Youth Orchestra Foundation, which introduces classical music to those between the ages of 5 and 20.
But Jara had a problem: The foundation had no open spots for violinists, causing her to settle for the cello. At first, Jara didn’t like the instrument, which is much larger than a violin, but 13 years later she’s fallen in love with the stringed instrument.
“I didn’t want to quit music,” she said. “My family took turns taking me to music class at night because I lived in a dangerous neighborhood. They also helped me carry the cello because it weighed a lot and I couldn’t carry it by myself.”
Today, Jara is the first cellist with the foundation’s José Artigas Youth Orchestra, which is coordinated by the Radio Electrical Diffusion (Sodre), an institution that promotes classical music in Uruguay.
She also teaches music at the foundation’s centers in Montevideo and Minas, the capital city of the department of Lavalleja.
“I often stayed at home on weekends to rehearse and I didn’t go to my family members’ birthday parties,” she said. “I would see my friends go out, but I stayed at home. Playing cello taught me values such as responsibility and commitment. Now, it’s an honor and a great responsibility to be the first cellist. It fulfills me as a person. I feel fortunate to make a living from music.”
Ariel Britos, one of the founders of the Uruguayan Youth Symphony Orchestra Foundation: “The children learn about values that will help them in the future. They also learn the importance of teamwork and perseverance, which leads to greater self-confidence.” (Antonio Larronda for Infosurhoy.com)
Jara is among 2,000 musicians who have passed through the foundation since it opened in 1996. Some of the foundation’s top musicians have gone on to play with the Montevideo Philharmonic, while others have received scholarships to study music abroad. And some musicians, such as Jara, have accepted positions with the José Artigas Youth Orchestra, according to maestro Ariel Britos, one of the project’s founders.
Read more about the Uruguay Foundation