|05ASUNCION430||2005-03-29 17:19:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Asuncion|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASUNCION 000430
1. Summary: In conjunction with a performance in Buenos
Aires, 14 members of the Yale Spizzwinks a cappella choir
performed two standing-room only concerts in Paraguay on
March 17 and 18. Their unique and engaging blend of music
and humor, combined with their youthful enthusiasm and
Spanish-language abilities, fascinated Paraguayan audiences.
Home stays allowed for one-on-one cultural exchanges which
amplified the success of the program. Media coverage was
extensive and included a live broadcast of a short
Spizzwinks performance. End summary.
Performances and Activities
2. The Spizzwinks gave a master class at the Paraguayan
American Cultural Center in Asuncion to kick-off their tour.
One of the Spizzwinks who reportedly speaks 12 languages
taught the master class in Spanish. Approximately 100
members of various Paraguayan choirs attended the class,
many of whom had come from towns up to 200 miles away.
During the question and answer portion of the class, the
audience asked not only questions regarding musical
technique but also inquired about life at Yale and ways in
which universities in the United States support the arts.
The class ended on a festive note with the audience divided
into their respective vocal parts and learning an a cappella
3. The following night the group performed in the Paraguayan
American Cultural Center's 300-seat auditorium. The
Ambassador and his wife attended the free, public-access
concert, which was sold-out three days in advance. Members
of the audience tapped their feet and occasionally sang
along throughout the 1 hour and 45 minute performance. One
of the highlights of the show came when each of the
Spizzwinks introduced themselves to the audience. Even the
non-Spanish speakers read a few translated sentences, much
to the crowd's delight. A member who stated that he wanted
to live in Paraguay when he "grew up" drew thunderous
applause from the audience. The audience thanked the
performers with a standing ovation and was thrilled when the
Spizzwinks returned for an encore.
4. Villa Hayes, the regional center of a remote and seldom-
visited Paraguayan state, was the next stop for the
Spizzwinks. The 500-seat church where the concert was held
was full 30 minutes before the scheduled start time, a
rarity in Paraguay where most performances begin at least 30
minutes late. By the time the free, public-access
performance began all available standing room in the church
was filled and eager spectators strained to catch a glimpse
of the performers from the plaza outside of the church.
Individual introductions were again a highlight of the
performance and when one of the singers used a Guarani
phrase (Paraguay's official indigenous second language) the
largely rural crowd cheered and stomped their feet.
Afterwards, departure was delayed by a full hour while the
Spizzwinks attended to autograph-seekers and new fans,
including the state governor.
5. Media coverage of the Spizzwinks was unusually extensive.
All three major dailies published multiple stories on the
tour. "ABC Color", Paraguay's largest and most influential
daily, ran six stories on the performances over the course
of one week, including two glowing reviews. As coverage of
cultural events in the Paraguayan press is usually limited
to pre-performance announcements, the publication of these
reviews testifies to the excitement and enthusiasm generated
by the Spizzwinks.
6. Radio Nanduti, the most listened-to radio station in
Paraguay, aired an interview with the musicians and
broadcast cuts from their CDs for several days leading up to
7. Red Guarani, a Paraguayan television network that
targets viewers in the rural areas of the country, broadcast
a live interview with some of the singers on the day of
their Asuncion performance. The Spizzwinks also sang to a
nation-wide audience during the broadcast.
Home-stays increase cultural exchange
8. Paraguayan families hosted the Spizzwinks for 3-day home
stays. Families were selected from members of local choral
groups, which lead to immediate camaraderie between the
performers and their hosts. In addition to lowering posts'
costs, this proved an invaluable way for Paraguayan families
to have a first-hand experience with Americans and American
9. The Yale Spizzwinks did not charge a fee for their
performance and generously provided their own plane tickets
to Buenos Aires using proceeds from performances and CD
sales. Airfare from Buenos Aires to Asuncion was funded by
the binational center in cooperation with TAM airlines,
which provided several free tickets. Post covered local
production costs and visa costs while local institutions
provided in-kind support.
10. Comment: At a time when the USG is actively working to
promote study in the US, high-caliber performances by
university groups, such as the performances by the Yale
Spizzwinks, are very effective vehicles through which to
pique the interest of potential students. These
performances, which reached audiences in areas of the
country usually without access to such information, has done
more to enliven interest in studying in the US than any
single event held in Paraguay within the last year. In
addition, the home stays that formed part of this program
were a low-cost and very effective channel through which to
give Paraguayan families the opportunity to interact with
young Americans of similar interests on a one-to-one basis.
A brief live television concert vastly increased the
audience reached. Finally, the program gave Post the
opportunity to promote mutual understanding with the
Paraguayan people by sharing a unique part of American
culture through the universal medium of music. End comment.