Canela PalaciosIn La Paz, Bolivia

View from elsewhere 06.01.2022

She is one of the names of the Bolivian experimental scene. Canela Palacios (1979), is a composer and performer. In 2015, she founded the Casa Taller collective, a meeting and creation space in the Andean capital, La Paz. 

Suzanne Gervais: How would you define your music and what are your sources of inspiration?
Canela Palacios : I think my music belongs to what some of us call contemporary academic music, although I also write popular music, especially songs. My sources of inspiration come from what I listen to in my daily life, what I see, what I read, quite simply. It can be a piece of music, a book, an idea ... I am very observant. 

You have created an artistic collective. What is your objective and who meets?
La Casa Taller is a collective of Bolivian artists, but also a meeting place in La Paz. It is led by the composers Miguel Llanque, Sebastián Zuleta and myself, although there are many other people, in particular young composers who are former students of the Casa Taller or people who regularly attend our activities: masterclasses, performances, workshops, concerts, etc., because we are a place for training as well as for creation. From the outset, we wanted to create a space dedicated to the training of composers, which is not really taken into account in the various music teaching institutions in Bolivia.

In France and, more generally, in Europe, creation is confronted with many challenges, the most important of which is less public support. What is the situation in Bolivia?
In Bolivia, the situation of the arts in general is very painful, if you look at the public support that artists and institutions receive. The funds that existed, which were already very little, were almost totally suspended with the pandemic. It is now almost impossible to survive economically with artistic work, and not only in music: in all its fields. The professionalization of artists is reduced and the quality of proposals is low, since all of them have to devote themselves to a parallel activity in order to survive.Fortunately, a small advantage, composition is a field in which you can work remotely without any problem. We can receive commissions from orchestras or festivals in other parts of the world and we are not totally dependent on the economic situation in our country. I also work regularly for German festivals, such as Donaueschinger Musiktage, where Los Otros was premiered by the Bolivian ensembles Ensemble Maleza and CG on 15 October 2021.

What is the audience for new, creative music in La Paz and more generally in Bolivia?
In Bolivia, the field of new or contemporary music is very small. There are not many of us and the activity is centred in La Paz, Cochabamba and to a lesser extent in Santa Cruz. But I think it is happening all over the world. Contemporary academic music moves in smaller circles than popular music, for example. However, if our circle is small in number of people, it is large geographically: we consider Colombian, Argentinean, Peruvian, etc. composers as our colleagues, and we have relationships and exchanges with them. We play their music in our country and they play our music in theirs.

Interview by Suzanne Gervais

Drawing © Daniela Rico


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