Paraguay - Sounds of Hope

Story Synopsis & Video Paraguay - Sounds of Hope

The General Walking; Kids' Medical Day

In "Sounds of Hope," FRONTLINE/World reporter Monica Lam journeys to Paraguay to meet Luis Szaran, a famous musician and social entrepreneur who has dedicated himself to helping redeem the lives of poor and neglected children through music.

As the son of a Paraguayan farmer, and one of eight children, Szaran rose from humble beginnings to become the conductor of Paraguay's national symphony. With a lifelong passion for music and with a desire to give back, Szaran set up the Sonidos de la Tierra [Sounds of the Earth] music program five years ago to teach music to orphans, street kids and other underprivileged children.

This heartwarming story not only reveals how music has changed the lives of many of these children, but how Szaran has created what he calls "a network for social change" in his country, where communities are coming together and organizing through music.

"You need to understand that Sonidos is not only about good musicians, but also about good citizens," Szaran says. He has established music schools in more than a hundred communities across Paraguay and is now expanding into five other countries.

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There are a few people on earth that truly inspire us, teach us the joy of a life well lived. This Maestro Luis Szaran with his initiatives and musical gifts has started a revolutionary social change worthy of praise and gratitude. May the spark of hope ignite a kind spirit in all Latin America! Dios te bendiga, Maestro.

Rhona Agerstrand
Barrigada, Guam, US

Aug. 8, 2007
I was so moved by my initial reading of the children and families working in the dumps in Asuncion whose lives have been touched by Mr. Szaran's wonderful work. I cried for the children in slums in Manila who are in dire similar straits I would like to e-mail this news item to my brother in Manila who went to a Jesuit college. Someone there could borrow ideas teaching children in slum communities music from a piano or choir music, but the story about the Jesuit monk who wrote the music that is being revived is such an incredible one. I cried to hear the music sung in Latin by this Jesuit monk who was from Tuscany and who lived and worked in the 17th century in South America. Thank you Frontline for giving us this wonderful story which I want to forward to Filipino relatives and friends.

Rachel Vasquez
Nashville, TN

As a former student of Luis Szaran's marvelous conducting with the Paraguayan youth symphony, I am so thrilled to hear about this incredible program. Maestro Szaran is truly a hero and champion of the arts in Paraguay!

Cesar Garcia
Fort Atkinson, WI

Aguije! (ah-wee-jeh; guarani "Thank you") As a native paraguayan (now US citizen) living in the US and hearing the stories about economic inequality, crime and corruption from my friend and family living there this has been a story that filled me with hope and joy, that changes are happening for the better and even more uplifting is that it is coming from within the country. Being a "Paraguayo" is like being in love, you never stop and the feeling never goes away. Even though I have made my home here and I consider my self an American, I could not help but to experience an overwhelming felling of pride when I heard Jorge Guzman masterfully play Bach's Cello suite or Oscar's original piece. I know the suffering, I know the struggle of my people. Maestro Luis Szaran is a visionary a patriot and one of the most giving individuals in a country that seems to be lost to the international community. Bravo! And once again aguije ndeve thanks again to Frontline for this story.

J C Romano
Bellmore, New York

I was touched deeply by the sheer joy of the children as they made music, and I was saddened to think of all the other children around the world who will never discover their musical talent due to poverty, neglect and ignorance. Bravo to Luis Szaran!


I have just watched this music program and I was moved to tears ! to see those children and young men playing so well, with big smiles, and music in their lives. How wonderful.

Grant Brill
Allen, TX

This is a GREAT program. Teaching a skill that has so many benefits, such as teamwork, dedication, the list goes on. Starting independently functioning schools of music in countries with little or no fine arts facilities/programs is a major accomplishment and the founder really has done an excellent job.

This sounds like it is a wonderful program and an excellent example of vertical integration, or the process of combining all elements of a process into one place. This program providing all of the necessary items to teach children who normally would not get an opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument is a perfect service to the community. If this program were extended to other places we could very easily see the next Mozart grow out of this program and astonish the world. The world needs more programs like this to replace the current centers of attention. Life would be so much more enjoyable if we knew that the major musicians we have today are truly the ones that showed the most promise and ability at a young age.

Having a beautiful adopted son from Paraguay, we were delighted to discover he is musically talented at age 8. He is 13 now and currently playing the violin and the concertmaster of our community youth symphony orchestra, in the Suzuki School of our local college, the asst. concertmaster of his middle school orchestra and writing and loving all forms of music. If possible, I would like to email Maestro to discuss implementing this program in a children's home in Cuidad del Este which our family oversees.

Wendy Comey
Spring Valley, Califonia

It gives me great hope that by each and everyone of us making a small contribution to our world it can truly be a beautiful place. What better way than through music and children?


I found this program by accident -- looking for your (Frontline's) most recent program (about renditions). This one caught my eye because a few years ago when I was studying Latin American history, I became interested in the history of Paraguay and wrote a paper on the Jesuit reducciones. Through my research I learned that the Jesuit missionaries included many skilled artisans, scholars and musicians who passed along their skills and knowledge to the Guaranis who lived (and worked) in the missions. I fell in love with the Paraguayan harp which was one of the legacies of this collaboration, I think. Aside from all this, I learned that this small country has an incredibly interesting and little-known history; a country whose fierce spirit was crushed by the colonial powers of the time for daring to be self-sufficient.

We have a son adopted from Paraguay who is a Suzuki student, an assistant concertmaster of the Youth Symphony and in his Middle School orchestra. He began playing the violin at age 10 and is extremely gifted musically in several instruments. I always knew it was genetic!

Kathy Jerman
Bellevue, WA

Absolutley wonderful. Thank you, for what you have given these children.

Anita Panday
Brampton Ontario, Canada

I watched the Luis Szaran video which was so inspiring and heartwarming He is a true Humanitarian giving back to the poor, orphaned, homeless, neglected children of Paraguay. Bravo to a great man. I hope that there are more talented people who do the same for their country's less fortunate. I know that one day I would love to help the children of South Africa!!!

Anita Panday
Brampton Ontario, Canada

I watched the Luis Szaran video which was so inspiring and heartwarming. He is a true humanitarian giving back to the poor, orphaned, homeless, neglected children of Paraguay. Bravo to a great man. I hope that there are more talented people who do the same for their country's less fortunate. I know that one day I would love to help the children of South Africa!!!

John Lomitola
Montauk, New York

I felt tears, happiness and a true sense of accomplishment watching this wonderful presentation on maestro Luis Szaran's dedication to these troubled children. Luis's work is like a beacon shining in the night, attracting the forgotten and giving purpose and hope to their lives.

ottawa, canada
I was overwhelmed by this story and the man himself.I have shown this to the national arts centre orchestra of Canada who has Pinchas Zucherman as the director and have offered to help sponsor a student to attend a summer scholarship for students.The world can use more of this kind of person.

Stella Goya
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

Aenor Luis. Como Paraguaya que hace 40 anos que vive fuera de su pais, senti una gran emocion cuando vi su programa, lo felicito y ruego a Dios que le de muchos anos de vida para que otros ninos reciban regalo de su generosidad. si alguna ves pasa por la Florida, nos gustaria conocerlo personalmente. Atentamente, Stela Goya.

Sergio Pizurno

I think that we all appreciate the effort made by the "maestro" because it's really very hard to find people, not only with the charisma but the guts to do the effort he is doing for the cause.
Double thumbs up!

am originally from Paraguay and know Luis Szaran quite well.After I finished a MA degree in Music Ed. in the States, I went back to Paraguay.I met Luis when he came to ask me to help filling up an application for a scholarship in (conducting(?) He was very young then.He told me he never studied music before and only took collective guitar lessons while in Elementary School.Eventually, with the help of friends he went to Italy anyhow but could not enter any school of music because of his lack of music knowledge & experience.Two years after that he became the conductor of the only orquestra we had at the time. He is evidently a very talented person!I can assure you he is not the one who teaches the kids or trains the musical groups you see in this clip. An american conductor who was visiting us said after attending a concert Luis conducted:"At least he has one of the requirements of an artist: daring." I do hope, using his own terms, Luis is not using "music as an excuse" to promote himself in order to get money, which has been the liev-motive of his whole life. My intention in writing to you is not to discourage you in your interest to show how music can benefit people of all ages anywhere but please, try to see and promote in our Latin American countries what is being done in a serious and responsable way.We do have very talented children and some amazing people teaching and making music with them with no other money but the one taken out of their own pocket! These are real inspirational stories!
Ercilia Talavera BS MA

belluno, italy

I knew the project, but now it's clearer in its aim. Maestro Luis Szaran is very involving in all the things he's working on. He gives energy to people working with him also. I admire him.

As a teacher I would like to meet students so gifted and interested in music as most of these children are, but it happens very seldom in developed countries.

P.S. For "anonymous": the piece is the prelude from the first suite for cello by J.S.Bach.


Luis you are simply THE BEST. PERIOD!!!!!

Asuncion, Paraguay
The project is very interesting, something similar to which Venezuela implemented 30 years ago. Congratulations and thanks, to the people who invest their money to save lives through music. Congratulations to my friend Luis Szaran.

Laurie Ballam
Logan, UTah

What a beautiful story. You would be very interested in what the Utah Festival Opera has done to touch thousands of children's lives through music. They instigated "Opera by Children" which has had phenomenal success in helping children academically, socially and children with special needs of all kinds.Utah Festival Opera Company
59 S. 100 W.
Logan, Utah 435 750 0300 x 107 or 108 website:

Elizabeth Leite
Newton, Kansas

I saw the program and was very touched. Music lets you see into the soul of a person and what beautiful souls these children have. What a blessing this man is, to use his gift of music, to brighten the lives of these children. It brings such hope and selfconfidence to their spirits. Thank God for such wonderful people who are willing to give of their time to better the lives of others.

Stockholm - Sweden
Muchas gracias por el programa. Como paraguaya en el exterior, me sentí realmente emocionada.

Kevin Jackson
Dublin (Ireland)

What a wonderful, inspiring and moving story. Congratulation to Luis Szarán and everyone involved in the Sonidos de la Tierra project.

Asuncion, Paraguay
PROCICLA is a program of Alter Vida, (a paraguayan ONG). We are working in Cateura a year ago in a recycling program with "gancheros" and with sounds of CATEURA with Prof. Szaran. If someone needs more informations or want to help to the program our site is

Allie Mastny
Twin Cities, MN

This was an amazing story that shows what creativity each and everyone of us can apply to our own lives to achieve great social change and compassion. Luis Szaran and his students and the communities they live in all deserve wreathes and wreathes of laurels. This story has inspired and encouraged me to continue on my path in music education as I leave for college next year. Thank you PBS

Cynthia Gomez
Asuncion, PY

Simply....Sensational! It has been a joy for the spirit to watch the video.

Donald Dunkle
Elizabethtown, KY

It is a beautiful program Luis Szaran started and continues to maintain. Please convey my admiration to Luis Szaran.
PennState 1962 EdD

Dave Peery
Palo Alto, CA

Sonidos de la Tierra is doing amazing things. What a beautifully done segment! If you are interested in supporting the work of Luiz Szaran, please visit or email

gianni baldotto
treviso, italia

I knew maestro Luis Szaran in Asuncion in 2000. I arrived from Buenos Aires to investigate more about the famous "Reducciones", where Italian baroque music and renaissence jesuit artists found the "El Dorado", their real paradise, in that part of Paraguay, thanks to the Guaranies indians.

Luis enchanted me one day with his volcanic description of life at a Mission at the end of 1600, where indians were happy to playing Zipoli, Vivaldi and Scarlatti many times a day, and building Palladian churches and carving Berninian statues on wood or rock.
Thanks to Luis, the first step, to save our world has been done.
I only believe in artistics-culturals-educational solutions, and Music is the powerful one.

Gianni Baldotto

Szaran is inspirational and this story was wonderfully presented. After thinking about the featured students all evening, I shared the story with my own students and, hopefully, sparked their humanitarian spirit.

Joseph Fryer
Murray, UT

My hat is off to Mr. Szaran. He is using his abilities in the field of music to create a pathway for societal change one individual at a time. This is extremely important in a country that is held back by political corruption on a grand scale. We need more people with his heart to step up in "underpriviledged" countries around the world.

paoli, pa
Thank you for bringing this program. It is the most uplifting one I have seen presented in a long time. I was moved to tears. I am calling all my friends to watch it online when it is available.

Joshua Monley
Woodland, California

I had heard an NPR report on this amazing music program, but was very touched to see (as well as hear) it in action. The finale with the 3 elite musicians performing really drove the story home for me (I'm a musician as well). Keep up the superior reporting your program is so good at doing with such consistency. Frontline is a diamond in the rough.

Richard Frankel
Derby, KS

This story really hit home with me. My wife is a music teacher and we own a music school, catering to over 450 students. Playing music can do wonderful things for a person and give them the ability to share the joy they get from playing with anyone who listens. It must be even more special for people, who have so much less than we do in America, to be able to acquire such a skill. Thanks Frontline.

Kara Arzamendia
St. Paul, MN

I am a recently returned Peace Corps volunteer from Paraguay who personally saw the benefits of Sonidos de la Tierra. I worked in a small isolated town in southern Paraguay for two years where the music group is alive and well. It is a great program and one of the few opportunities that allows both young men and young women to participate in extracurricular activites and gives them a way to express themselves in a positive manner. Sonidos de la Tierra not only assisted with music classes and concerts but also supplied our public library with music materials so that the students could study and read about music history and theory.Thank you for giving this wonderful program your attention. I thought it was great!

berkeley, california

It is good to see something positive happening in a country like Paraguay which suffered for so many years under the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner, who allowed his country to be a haven for fugitive Nazis and drug dealers.

Senora Amador
Small Town, Indiana

Muchas gracias por el programa. As a high school Spanish teacher, I am always looking for new and impactful ways to open my students' eyes and hearts. Frontline/World is an great way to do that! Please continue to bring us this high quality programing!

Connie Montgomery
Desert Hot Springs, California

I am a PhD candidate in Literacy, Language and Culture. My home community has lost a generation of children to drugs, gangs, violence, neglect and poverty. I am praying for a pretext from which to teach children the possibility of a new world view; a world in which they can participate by contributing their lives to wholeness of spirit, wholeness of body, and wholeness of mind. Like Mr. Szaran, I must seek to enlist the adults in this community to participate in ways that support and benefit this endeavor; to birth a sustainable impact on these children. I am grateful for the model that Mr. Szaran has provided. Connie Montgomery

What a touching program that really brought the concept of "social change" to life! Does anyone know the name of the song that was being played on the cello near the opening of the program? If so, please let me know, I'd love to download it!

Thank you for keeping the full local soundtracks of the interviews intact. It was so moving to be able to hear the people's reactions and feelings in their own voices, for those of us who understand directly. Along with discrete translations and subtitles to allow others to participate. Perfect methods!!! Keep up the good work.

Thanks so much for these views into how one person can make a considerable positive difference by using his skills, both professional and personal, to help advance the most needy among our world citizens. I would love to see more such items from our Latin neighbors. Argentina, where I formerly lived, has advanced markedly in many areas over the last 40 years as well. Fantastic!!!

Charles Canaan
Brookings, SD

What an uplifting story about giving the gift of music to these young people who do not have an easy life in Paraguay. Keep up the good work.

Charlottesville, Virginia
I would like to find a way to help with this particular program. My financial resources are currently limited to funding two children through college...but this program I want to find a way to help over time. How wonderful for the children and for all of us.

Silvia Garces
New York, NY

Thanks PBS for bringing this touching story to your viewers. This brings inspiration and hope at a time when the world seems to be falling upon our eyes. It gave me back trust in human beings ready to give back.


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