Día Nacional del Arpa Paraguaya Celebrated with Music and Conferences

Today, on Sunday, June 9th, the National Day of the Paraguayan Harp is celebrated, commemorating the death of Félix Pérez Cardozo, an emblematic master of this instrument. The celebration takes place at the Sabor Urbano restaurant (Leopardi casi Unión, Fernando de la Mora/@saborurbanoo_ on Instagram) starting at 11:30 AM, with the presentation of several musicians. Renowned representatives such as Martín Portillo, Blas Flor, Marcelo Ojeda, Rito Pedersen, Marcelo Rojas, Carmen Monges, Sixto Corbalán, Alberto Benítez, Alcides Ovelar, and Rolando Cristaldo will be participating in this event.

Another activity to honor this special day will be held on Tuesday, June 11th, at 6:00 PM, at La Casa de la Música (Cerro Corá 848 c/ Tacuary), with a conference titled “The Paraguayan Harp,” presented by Francisco Giménez.

The current president of the association of harpists, Alicia Esther Brizuela Alcaraz, stated to Última Hora: “My goal is to build, strengthen, and advance in honor of our legacy, our symbol instrument of Paraguayan music. Also, to protect and promote the harp and its custodians.” The Paraguayan harp is a characteristic instrument of Paraguay, resulting from the confluence of European and Guarani musical cultures. Its history dates back to the 18th century when Spanish colonizers introduced the harp to the country. Originally used in religious ceremonies and popular festivals, it eventually became a fundamental element of Paraguayan folk music. Unlike the classical harp, the Paraguayan harp did not adopt pedals and mechanical tuners that allowed modulation into different keys. Although its tuning is diatonic, custodians learn it orally from generation to generation and use their nails instead of fingertips. The Salvi keys convert the sound of the harp to a chromatic sound, allowing the interpretation of various themes.

Evolution. The evolution of the Paraguayan harp was rapid. In the early 1900s, harps had 28 or 32 strings, initially made of animal gut, later replaced by nylon. Félix Pérez Cardozo added 4 notes to the instrument, which allowed for the execution of the piece “Pájaro campana.” “There is still a long way to go. We have little support from the authorities, but I am convinced that we can go very far. There are great harp exponents, adults, children, and young people who love the instrument.”

“We will continue to raise awareness about how important it is to value our music, our artists, and above all our symbol instrument of Paraguay, the harp,” highlighted Brizuela, the president of the Association of Paraguayan Harpists.

The National Day of the Harp was established in 1997 in honor of Félix Pérez Cardozo.

Sixto Corbalán and Martín Portillo are among the great exponents of the Paraguayan harp.