Pendel Music Team Heads Bolivian Musicamp
January 1-14, 2012
On New Year’s Eve, our team of eight, including Aaron
Harris, Cathy Hayes, David LaBossiere, Bob Myers, Lisa Collier and David, Donna
and Harold Burgmayer, boarded a flight from Philadelphia to Miami. We landed in
La Paz, Bolivia (12,000 feet above sea level) at 6:00 am on New Year’s
Day where we were greeted by Divisional Commanders for the Altiplano Division,
Major Sixto & Aida Ali, and a corps officer from La Paz, Major Martin
Aguilar. We journeyed three hours across ”altiplano” (high
plane) to a city called Oruro.
The Altiplano Division is one of two
divisions in Bolivia. One hundred and twenty delegates, ages 13-25, come to its
Divisional Music Camp. The first night, in a large open air space and concrete
floor, the campers were very excited, not only to learn new things musically
and to grow spiritually, as evidenced by the Biblias they carried. The
Bolivians love to sing, and with great passion; horns, drums, and guitars are
all involved in the worship!
After we auditioned each delegate for
their majors, local staff typed furiously trying to organize where everyone
would be placed. Following lunch, we hit the ground running. Majors
included Bandas (Bands) A, B, and C; Timbrels; Chorus; and
Percussion. After majors, we headed right into electives: Guitar,
Percussion, Piano, and a Leadership Group. A solid hour of theory came next,
which most of us would agree was the hardest thing we had do all day because
theory class, ironically, is where we needed the most words and continued to
come up short.
Our first full day of classes was a
true test of our fortitude and mastery of the Spanish language. Starting at
9:00 AM we had a total of seven hours of instruction. We broke for lunch at
1:00 feeling like we had worked a full day, even though we were less than
halfway done. The afternoon contained more rehearsals and then
“free” time, which we used to prepare for the evening concert. In
between classes, members of our group compared notes, evaluated our Spanish,
and prepared for the next class.
Even at the end of a long day of teaching and playing, we were excited to
play a full concert. After four days in Bolivia, we had acclimated to the
altitude and felt ready to play. We opened with the big band classic
Malaguena which got the full attention of the entire audience.
The concert was a cross-section of the various styles of music played in
Salvation Army bands (with a bit more jazz and Latin than average).
Highlights included Hanover Variations by Martin Cordner, the tangos
Oblivion and Libertango by Astor Piazolla (arr. Burgmayer),
and Gospel John. The audience was able to sing along with
Arriba! by Brian Bowen and Samba: Fruit of the Spirit by
Kevin Larsson. The concert concluded with us singing God Be with
You in Spanish.
As we entered into our third full
day of music camp, we started to adjust to the brisk pace. The students
remained hungry for musical instruction, often sharing after class their other
questions or personal experiences. Each morning began with a devotional time at
the flagpole where one of our team members led devotions through translation.
We are presenting one fruta de espirito each day. Following devotions,
announcements were shared, the Bolivian National Anthem was sung, and a worship
chorus and prayer was offered.
The evening program was Noche de Talentos (Night of Talents) and
included an energetic praise and worship band with ska-like influences,
impromptu dancing while singing along with the band, scripture reading, and a
wide assortment of talents shared by the campers.
Even though we were busy 7:30 am to
10:00 pm every day, it was fulfilling work. The students were eager learners
and so well-behaved. They brought their own bedrolls for sleeping on
classroom floors of the school. They also brought their own plates, cups
and silverware. After meals, they took turns washing their dishes in a
huge bucket filled with (cold) soapy water, then rinsed in a second large pail
On our fourth night of camp, we attended Noche de Gala (Gala
Night), a formal affair complete with a terrace of balloons, a multitude of
photographers, cloth tablecloths, fresh roses and fancy folded napkins dressing
the tables. After the praise and worship band, Scripture, and a passionate
message by Mayor Miranda, our team sang two items: Hay Una Fuente (I
Know a Fount) and Ve Dilo (Go Tell It).
Saturday was the last full day of
classes! The afternoon Music Camp Soloist Program featured twelve brass, vocal,
and timbrel soloists. Most had changed into their uniforms, illustrating
a great respect for the uniform as it is worn whenever someone is to read
scripture, share a testimony, lead a meeting or speak. The high-quality solos
exuded great passion, dedication, and practica (practice).
Everyone dressed in CDM (Divisional Music Camp) shirts for an open-air at a
park in town. The students marched through the streets led by a resounding drum
line. What a joyful noise! This caught the attention of many who followed
them to the main square. All timbrelists were "on duty" and had several
patterns and combinations that accompanied the Bolivian beats as we
When we arrived, the praise band "Revolúcion," from the corps here in
Oruro, was set up and playing contemporary Christian songs in Spanish.
Their leader spoke frequently and with bold proclamations that we were from The
Salvation Army Institute of Music and wanted to share our love for Jesus
through our joyful music and presentations. Several groups from the camp
performed. The crowd particularly enjoyed our dixieland-style Go Tell it on
the Mountain, which featured solos from almost all members of our group in
a jazz style. The students were ready with flyers, as well as requests
over the microphone, to join us for the CDM Final Concert to take place in
Oruro the next night. Clearly, the huge crowd, gathered in a major city park on
a Saturday evening, heard the Gospel and became further acquainted with the
Army in that city!
The Holiness Meeting was filled with
many uplifting moments. Having made many friends throughout the week, our
team sensed the Spirit of God working. We shared solo offerings and
testimonies, despite the occasional challenges with our Spanish. Music is
truly an international language. The altar was lined with so many that the five
or six front pews were turned allowing many to give and renew their commitment
to our Lord. Hallelujah!
That evening, the culmination of our
week’s worth of music education came together in a Finale concert
Monday – our last full day of camp
Around 10:00 a.m., the music campers spent the morning at a local swimming
pool and we met at the Booth school to depart for a tour of the town. We walked
to a local restaurant (very similar to our pizza shops here at home) that
serves saltanias, a local Bolivian pastry that is filled with
pollo (chicken, although sometimes also made with beef), potatoes,
vegetables and broth.
At our last night in Oruro, in a message provided by our very own Harold
Burgmayer, we were reminded that we honor God by using our gifts for His
Tuesday – saying goodbye
commenced with a celebratory final camp meeting. Campers received awards from
various majors and electives, as well as a charge to begin preparing for next
year’s camp, while taking what they learned this week back to their
corps. This final meeting put a wonderful benediction on what was a very packed
full, but rewarding week of camp in Oruro.
Wednesday – corps visits
morning, we visited four corps in La Paz. In the evening, we played "Wally
Ball," which is a fast-paced indoor version of volleyball that is best
described as "pinball with people". It was a fun time of fellowship with the
young Salvationists of La Paz.
Thursday – DHQ visit
morning we visited the DHQ facility. There are just three officers - the
Divisional Commander, the Director of Women's Ministries and the Program
Secretary, plus one employee – an accepted candidate who serves as the
secretary for all three officers. Everybody does everything –
finance, property, program, you name it!
That afternoon, we traveled to a more rural area to the Corcueamay Corps and
the Yauichambi Corps, and then to Lake Titicaca (the highest lake in the world)
on the border of Bolivia and Peru. In the evening, we played our final concert
of the trip with closing words by Divisional Commander Sixto Ali and the
singing of Total Praise by the congregation.
We thank you for your prayers and support, and we solicit your prayers for
the Salvationist musicians in the Antiplano Division in Bolivia!
Continued growth of musicians throughout the
Supplies and Instruments
Becoming a model program
musicians remaining in the Army to train the next generation
of music leaders
Continuity of vision
The raising of funds for their continued
Good use of resources
Permanent financial means
Music and Arts