“Evaluating the cultural soundscape of the world, the rondalla is the sound of hope, uniting people together in the process of musical creation.”
Cuerdas Nin Kagabsan (Strings of Unity), Naga city, Bicol region, 2004
The Plucked String tradition as a shared musical heritage
The Strings of Unity Festival is envisioned as a grand festival for the rondalla as plucked string ensemble, singled out as a shared heritage in the musical traditions of the world, which ramified into diverse musical forms and practices.
The Philippine rondalla sparked this idea in that it inherited the plucked string tradition from Spain who in turn got its own from the Arab world, tracing thus such music to a more ancient practice. This historical link is what inspired the particular pursuit of linkages among the diverse plucked string traditions in the world. In effect, the Philippine rondalla is deeply connected to other classical and folk instrumental traditions: from the pipa, shamisen, sanxian and the gambus from Asia, to the cuatro and charrango of the Americas, as well as the myriads of configurations of the lutes and mandolins from Europe and the Arab world.
The initial impetus to create this event in 2004 also sprung from the ManyMusics Action Programme promoted by the International Music Council (a non-governmental organization associate of UNESCO) to help sustain and enhance musical diversity.
In the spirit of rediscovery and revitalization of a shared musical heritage, the International Rondalla/Plucked String Festival wants to harness the spirit of diversity and be a venue, as well as a forum, for the exchange of musical knowledge and experience. It is meant to bring people together with different musics and musical ideas. In seeking historical roots and shared cultural patrimonies, it aims to discover hidden treasures in the folk and traditional music of different peoples, and to create new musics from the encounter of divergent musical practices of the world’s cultures.
In this endeavor, the Strings of Unity Festival sees as important that it be brought to the different countries where the plucked string tradition exists with great importance to the musical life of the peoples. The festival is an initiative that believes that for this musical tradition to flourish, other cultures must nourish it: collaboration could result in a dynamic synergy that would create a new musical environment.
Through the medium of musical communication, the festival is engaged not only in bringing about cultural understanding among peoples, but also in the ultimate quest for global peace, harmony and unity, symbolized in its very name.