Two centuries ago, the course of history was forever changed in Latin America when seven countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and Peru achieved their long-awaited independence from Spanish colonial rule. In 1821, these nations embarked on a journey towards self-determination and freedom, leaving behind a legacy that would shape the destiny of the American continent.
To commemorate this momentous occasion, the embassies of these seven countries, joined forces to celebrate their bicentennial of independence through a grand concert. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, this historic event finally came to fruition on October 11, 2022, at the Conservatoriumzaal of Amare National Theatre in The Hague.
The preparations for this exceptional celebration began many months in advance, with the initial plan to hold the concert in December 2021. However, the ongoing pandemic forced organizers to postpone the event. Nevertheless, the resilience and determination of the participating nations, diplomats, musicians, and organizers prevailed, and the concert eventually took place, highlighting the deep significance of this historical milestone.
The Latin American friendship and unity were palpable throughout the entire process, as the participating countries came together with a shared passion to discuss the program, guests, and music selection even in the existing circumstances. The eight countries that co-hosted the event: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and Peru, joined in solidarity by the Dominican Republic, collaborated closely with the Conservatory of The Hague to orchestrate this meaningful event.
H.E. Ms. Elizabeth Ward Neiman, Ambassador of the Republic of Panama, took the stage to address the guests on behalf of her colleagues, present at the Conservatorium Auditorium: H.E. Mr. Arnoldo Brenes Castro, Ambassador of Costa Rica; H.E. Mrs. Carmen María Gallardo de Hernández, ambassador of El Salvador; H.E. Mr. Jorge Skinner-Klée Arenales, Ambassador of Guatemala; H.E. Mr. Jose Antonio Zabalgoitia Trejo, Ambassador of Mexico; H.E. Mrs. Marisol Agüero Colunga, Ambassador of Peru; H.E. Mr. Juan Bautista Durán, Ambassador of the Dominican Republic, and Ms. Viviane de Pierrefeu Midence, Changee d’affaires of Honduras, echoing the sentiments of unity and shared history among the participating nations. Her words resonated with the audience, setting the stage for the musical journey that was about to unfold.
“Tonight, you will enjoy a musical journey of pieces carefully selected to represent each of our countries. Throughout the evening, you will have the opportunity to listen to outstanding musicians who are studying at the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague. Many of them hail from the Latin American region. As a celebration of unity, ‘Ode to Joy’ has been included to conclude the program,” Ambassador Neiman declared, capturing the essence of the evening’s celebration.
As the concert program unfolded, a sense of pride and nostalgia washed over the audience as they recognized songs from their respective countries. The audience transformed into a spontaneous chorus, filling the hall with joyous and heartfelt renditions of beloved melodies.
Special recognition was extended to the Director of the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, Mr. Henk van der Meulen, for his unwavering support. Additionally, the students who dedicated countless hours to rehearse the diverse repertoire, which included tracks from each participating country, were acknowledged for their outstanding contributions to the evening’s success.
In the grand Conservatoriumzaal of Amare National Theatre in The Hague, history came alive through music, unity, and shared celebration. The concert opened with the moving music of Peru, a majestic processional piece sung in Quechua, providing a captivating introduction to the evening’s festivities. Then, baroque music from Guatemala and Mexico were also present and the pieces that followed were advancing in time and staging musical instruments from the region, such as marimbas and others. Each participating country’s unique cultural heritage and musical traditions were celebrated through a diverse selection of pieces performed by talented musicians.
The event was an unequivocal success, with a distinguished guest list that included ambassadors, representatives of international organizations, Dutch government authorities, and business leaders.
The two hundred anniversary concert of the independence of these seven Latin American countries not only commemorated a pivotal moment in history but also served as a testament to the enduring bonds of friendship, solidarity, and cultural heritage that unite nations across borders. It was a night to remember, an ode to Latin American resilience, and a harmonious illustration of traditional Latin American cohesion and unity.