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Bolivia Project

Back To Bolivia: A Lifetime Later
              A Musical Journey
featuring Dobbs (Richard Hartshorne),                    double bass
Claudia Quilali, Director
World TV Premiere          on NHPBS Wednesday October 29 at 8:00 PM EST         and Sunday November 1 at 6:00          PM EST

 Back to Bolivia

  a lifetime later

   Volver a Bolivia después de una vida

Since 2004, I’ve been doing performances mostly in places where music is needed desperately. This has taken me to Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Uganda and prisons in the United States. To fund these free concerts, I have asked friends and supporters to donate to this end. It is only natural to wonder whether these concerts have a lasting effect on the listeners or whether it is merely a pleasant way to spend an hour. During my return to Bolivia after many years, I realized that there was a way to test this.


In 1969 while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in La Paz, Bolivia, I went with two other musicians and two classical dancers to six villages near Lake Titicaca. We performed Mozart, Gluck and scenes from Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky. These were the first concerts of classical music and dance ever performed in these places. In April of 2013, forty-four years later, I returned to these same six villages to find out if those concerts did have a lifelong effect on audience members. Here is what we found:

Back To Bolivia: A Lifetime Later TRAILER

In Sicuani, Justo Quispe Condori, an eighty-eight year old man who remembered (what I had forgotten) that there were two concerts; one in front of the chapel and one in the school. His comments were mostly in the language of Aymara and will be translated for the film that we are making.

In Huayllani, Don Andrés Poma, eighty-two, remembered everything about that evening in the old church including that my former wife, who was dancing in slippers, lost one and then took off the other and threw it to me. His cousin and his oldest daughter also remembered. Andrés must have embraced me twenty or thirty times over the two days we were there.

In Compi, we found Nestor Quispe who said that as I played the first note he became a boy of nine again. “I remembered the sounds of that concert and carried them in my heart my whole life.”  He later moved to La Paz and took up the accordion.


We found ten people in total who had been in the audiences for those concerts. The reason we found so few is because the population has changed radically and most of the young people have moved to the city, and those who stayed in the villages are now quite old. I presented each village with photos I had taken in ’69 and many faces now deceased were recognized. The ten who were present all remembered clearly the events of forty-four years ago and some were very vocal and grateful.

Here is the team who made the trip: Edgar, driver and water colorist, Me, Claudia, photographer and filmmaker, and Eduardo, cello player.

Run time: 41 minutes


Richard "Dobbs" Hartshorne, Double Bass & Producer

Claudia Quilali, Director

Jaime Arze, Editor

Edgar Quispe, Driver & Water Colorist
Eduardo Quintela, Grip & Cello

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