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The Landfill Harmonic: it will make you weep

Young people so poor they build their instruments from junk. And so hopeful that they will defy all odds to perform a concert. Just watch.

Landfill Harmonic- The world sends us garbage… We send back music. from Landfill Harmonic on Vimeo.

A message from the producers:

We are still under production as the story is still evolving and taking unexpected paths for our characters. Like in most independent film projects, funds are scarce. We are trying to secure them through donations and other sources to complete production in 2013.

You can contact them here:

More background information here.


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  1. Inspiring.

  2. Ingrid Fliter says:

    Thank you Norman for sharing this. It touched my heart deeply. Gives us all a lesson of hope, purity and love to music. The world needs more of these kids desperately.

  3. It's That Steve Again (ITSA) says:

    Ja. Puts things in perspective – or should – for first world populations whose idea of hardship is not being able to afford the latest gizmo, or the traumatising experience of bad coffee at Starbucks.

  4. thekingontheviolin says:

    How very beautiful!

  5. Time for first and second world musicians to be grateful for what they have and where they live.

    Also time for some smart orchestra management (there must be some, somewhere) to distribute this video and sponsor the community, or at least raise funds for the completion and distribution of this film.

    It’s the season of giving, and it IS better to give than to receive.

    Thank you Norman, for sharing this.

  6. This is just overwhelming…

  7. Thank you, Norman. I can’t add any more to what the above commentators have said other than I’ll be digging into my pockets to contribute to this one.

  8. Here is an article with some good information about this music program-

  9. William Safford says:

    I am currently trying out a new (to me) bassoon. This video sure puts things in perspective.

  10. Can someone tell me the name do the piece of music played on this clip pls.

  11. This is just so humbling, and so inspiring. This makes for a better Monday morning, though I looked in vain to donate something towards this project.. Thank you, Norman, for sharing.

  12. Stephen Carpenter says:

    2 things- As a young person I saw a short film with Pablo Casals. What I remember was the last image of him in the larger room with his cello playing this very same passage from the Bach Cello Suites. It was indelibly printed in my memory- not entirely because of Casals but more because of the music itself and Bach. Today, that image shares space with this young boy playing the same passage on his cello- The same music the same love of the sound, the same drive, but this young person had to come a further distance- he had to create a cello first. He had to see the parts of his cello laying about in the trash. (I’ll have to see the trailer film again for his name which I must have). I’m never going to be the same after this.
    The second thing tangent to this is the article a few months ago about the music teacher in texas that wouldn’t let the student play on her purple violin her grandmother got for her because it would stand out amongst all the others. I remember that too, but not in a good way for what we “educators” do to those we are responsible for nurturing.
    Thank God the garbage police didn’t ban the keeping of valuable scrap by the townspeople.

  13. Simon Styles says:

    This is very moving, and gives one hope for humanity….. Is there anyway of donating to this remarkable project??

  14. Forgive my skepticism, but the movie trailer alone has some red flags. Is the Vivaldi material dubbed?
    Where do the strings/bridges/fingerboards come from? Who teaches the students? This could be a GREAT project, but I wish there was some independent assessment that this is a fact-checked, legit project, before everyone throws money at it.

    • It's That Steve Again (ITSA) says:

      There will definitely be something out there on this, whether legit or not. It’s just a question of the effort people need, or want, to put in doing their homework. I have yet to find a phenomenon on which I could not find information, and I’ve covered a ridiculously wide range of subjects over the decades.

    • Hi Matt, believe or not, the Recycled Orchestra exists. It is part of a huge social/educational/cultural movement called Sonidos de la Tierra (Sounds of the Land). This project, that is 10 years old, have provided music lessons and instruments to 20,000 kids from all over Paraguay, my country. They support the Recycled Orchestra not only with instruction but also with some of the materials needed to create the instruments. All the kids whose lives they have touched, received not only the gift of music, but most importantly hope. Some of the former students have became performers and others are music teachers in their original communities. Both, the Recycled Orchestra and Sonidos de la Tierra need all our help to continue their titanic work. Regards,

  15. Wonderful, rejuvinating, sad, joyful hopeful. this is our brave new world. We will all be scavaging the landfills before the century is out. Buy only what you really need, recycle, reuse, repurpose… towards beauty.

  16. I’d like to help but I don’t feed the evil beast that is Facebook

  17. Dee J. Mills says:

    It is amazing that instruments can be built our of Recyclables. Way to go:

  18. Matt, vete al carajo, y te lo digo desde España. Gente como tu de escéptica sobre en este mundo, Se escéptico con lo que pasa a tu alrededor, que mala ostia me entra leer a este tipo de gente, con todo lo que tiramos en el mal llamado primer mundo.

    • Antonio, tranquilo… Entiendo tu frustración, pero el mundo también necesita de los escépticos. Y la belleza de un foro como éste, muy internacional y diverso, es que nos permite intercambiar ideas en forma abierta y libre. Puede que ni vos ni yo comulguemos con algunas de ellas, y estamos en todo nuestro derecho de retrucarlas, pero recordá que el contenido del mensaje llega más si cuidamos la forma en que lo presentamos. De corazón te digo que el comentario de Matt tuvo sus beneficios y sirvió para que todos nos retroalimentáramos y enriqueciéramos mútuamente. Después de todo, la vida es un proceso de aprendizaje infinito y todos somos aprendices. Que estés bien y saludos a toda España.

  19. The wonder of the creating of the instruments palls compared with the fact that these underprivileged young people are playing, from choice, ‘real’ music. In an affluent first world country they would be making a ghastly cacophonous noise highly amplified and cavorting around in silly costume – like Lady Ga Ga or the superannuated Rolling Stones. And expecting to become instant ‘stars’ and millionaires from doing so. Congratulations to the inspiring people behind their choice of material.

    • Susan Bradley says:

      Nil desperandum, Colin. I work with young people who want to play real music. I conduct ensembles from all walks of life – children in private schools, children in state schools, children in rural areas – in a variety of music. Without exception, when put to the vote, the children ALWAYS prefer the classical pieces I offer them; admittedly in transcription and arrangement to suit their skill levels. Only three weeks ago, on a short music camp, in which there were many ensembles, including rock bands and jazz bands, the children in my ensemble were almost unanimous in voting arrangements of Nessun Dorma and Hungarian Dance no 5 as the best of the pieces I offered them. The rejected pieces were more modern. One has to trust that given the right exposure – in this case, actually playing the pieces and feeling their power from the inside of the ensemble, as it were – young people can rapidly learn to love classical music.

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