For the first time a Chilean receives the Samuel Claro Valdés Latin American Musicology Award


In its thirteenth edition, the UC Music Institute’s Samuel Claro Valdés Latin American Musicology Award will be received for the first time by a Chilean. It is the ethnomusicologist Leonardo Díaz Collao, who obtained it ex aequo with the Ecuadorian researcher of Venezuelan origin Jesús Estévez Monagas. Both musicologists are under 40, the UC reported.

The jury was composed of Enrique Cámara de Landa, academician of the University of Valladolid; María Gembero Ustárroz, scientist at the Milá y Fontanals Institution for Humanities Research in Barcelona, ​​​​​​and Daniel Party Tolchinsky, professor at the UC Music Institute. Thus, as per tradition, the fields of ethnomusicology, historical musicology and folk music studies were represented.

The decision was unanimous. In the minutes the jury establishes that “Beyond Mapuche music: misunderstandings, definitions and resistance”, the award-winning article by Leonardo Díaz Collao, “renew and promotes the debate on the tension between what is meant by music in ethnomusicological production and in Mapuche communities” . He also points out that he expands on this theme by incorporating speech and soundscape.

The article “Musical life in the cathedral of Quito (1545-1836): new perspectives and documents”, by Jesús Estévez Monagas, was awarded by the jury as “a rigorous and very well documented work, based on unpublished sources and on the critical review of the previous bibliography”. It is also underlined that “it opens up new perspectives for locating musical activity in the territory of what is now Ecuador within the panorama of Spanish-American colonial history, in whose general narratives it had so far little presence” .

Honorable mention also for the article “Ugulendu: drums, rattles, chants and sonofanías of the Guatemalan Garífuna spirituality”, by Augusto Pérez Guarnieri.

The Samuel Claro Valdés Award is granted by the UC Music Institute and consists of a cash amount -US $2,000- and also publication in Revisa Resonancias. The latter implies a wide international circulation, since the journal is indexed in the Web of Science: Arts & Humanities Citation Index (AHCI) and in Scopus.

The two joint first prize and honorable mention winning articles will be published by the UC Music Institute’s Resonancias magazine in the year 2023.

The Samuel Claro Valdés Prize 2022 received 16 proposals from researchers residing in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, United States, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela. The jury highlighted the “predominantly high standard” of the studies.

mapuche music

Leonardo Díaz Collao (1986) is Doctor of Musicology at the Universities of Valladolid and Complutense of Madrid and postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Music of the Alberto Hurtado University, where he teaches. He is also secretary of the Chilean committee of the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM).

The Samuel Claro Valdés Prize, he indicates, “means a recognition and an opportunity for me to make my work visible, but also to make the Mapuche musicians and musicians I work with visible, so I hope this recognition is a window to position strongly the idea of ​​Mapuche researchers, researchers, musicians and musicians”.

Díaz Collao points out that “Beyond Mapuche Music: Misunderstandings, Definitions and Resistance” was born out of an ethnography that he developed “in Wallmapu with machi Mercedes Antilef and kimche Juan Ñanculef, as well as other peñi/lamgen who very jointly have me allowed to meet a part of the Mapuche world”.

The researcher is emphatic: “We are very ignorant of the Mapuche people in general and their different cultural expressions. In this article I problematize the relevance of the concept of music for understanding the Mapuche sound universe”.

The ethnomusicologist clarifies that he does not belong to the Mapuche people.

“I don’t think it is the job of non-Mapuche ethnomusicologists to define what Mapuche music is. But we can problematize issues that go beyond the concept of music and that refer to other ways of understanding sound and listening”, she adds. In his work she incorporated two elements that are not usually conceptualized as music by ethnomusicologists: speech and soundscape, which was highlighted by the judging panel.

Reference figures

Jesús Estévez Monagas (1988) is a doctoral student in Musicology at the Complutense University of Madrid and an academic at the College of Music of the University San Francisco de Quito.

“I am proud to represent my two countries,” says the musicologist. Born in Venezuela, he has lived in Ecuador for 14 years and already has that nationality.

“I’m like a kid who doesn’t believe he has a new toy. I always do my best to give my best, and in historical research I have read many prominent figures in America, such as Samuel Claro Valdés was at the time ”, he adds. He refers to three researchers: Javier Marín López, Alejandro Vera and David Andrés Fernández. The latter, he points out, “was my thesis advisor and the one who taught me to be rigorous, which the jury highlighted”.

His article, “Musical Life in the Cathedral of Quito (1545-1836): New Perspectives and Documents,” addresses a gap he identified. “The musicological work done during much of the 20th century in Ecuador is very empirical. Although it is very valuable, in my opinion this work needs to be academicised,” says Jesús Estévez Monagas. Field work is not enough, he says, but the treatment of historical sources must be done ethically, by quoting them.

“Since Robert Stevenson’s 1962 work published on Quito, there had not been a study in 60 years updating those contributions. In that ‘problem’ that I found came my desire to intervene and help place the city of Quito and its cathedral among the most studied cathedrals ”, he explains.

High level

The high participation and the high level of the proposals received in the Samuel Claro Valdés Prize 2022 contrast with the previous edition of the prize, two years ago, when it was declared void.

“It seems that in 2020 the pandemic affected the number of applicants and the level. The fact that there have now been 16 entries, from various countries, and generally of a good standard, indicates that the award is attractive and that it is important to keep it,” says Alejandro Vera, professor at the UC Music Institute and coordinator of the award.

In South America, the Samuel Claro Valdés is the only award that has continuity over time. And it is one of four Spanish-language awards for musicology that are presented regularly, together with the Casa de las Américas, Otto Mayer-Serra and the Spanish Society of Musicology.

Professor Alejandro Vera points out that the two articles sharing the Samuel Claro Valdés Prize 2022 “are very different and valuable from a different point of view, a diversity that is very important in a musicology like Latin America. Leonardo Díaz Collao’s work reflects on music related to the oral tradition, especially indigenous peoples, but at the same time uses it to reflect more broadly on the concepts of music, so it is a fairly theoretical article. The article by Jesús Estévez Monagas is instead much more empirical and provides new data on the musical life of Ecuador in the past”.

However, only three of the 16 articles submitted were written by women. Regarding the low female participation, Alejandro Vera acknowledges that “it is surprising, considering the number of women in the Chilean Society of Musicology and the number of women who participate in congresses and publish relevant documents in a higher percentage than this. We will have to look for the causes”.

The Samuel Claro Valdés Latin American Musicology Award is one of the most prestigious awards in the Latin American world for the discipline. It was created in 1998, to pay homage to the pioneer of the discipline in Chile, who taught at the UC Music Institute from 1982 until his death in 1994. It is delivered every two years and consists of a monetary amount of US $2,000. publication in the magazine Risonanze. The latter implies a wide international circulation, since the journal is indexed in the Web of Science: Arts & Humanities Citation Index (AHCI) and in Scopus.

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