Skoll Foundation


Sonidos de la Tierra

Skoll Awardee(s): Luis Szarán
Award Year: 2005
Issue Area(s) Addressed: Education

(Click here to print)

Luis Szarán is an internationally known composer and conductor; he is maestro of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Asunción, Paraguay. The eighth child of struggling farmers, he was “discovered” by a prominent Paraguayan musician who gave him the opportunity to study with master teachers in Europe. His experience drove him to offer similar opportunities to others. He founded Sonidos de la Tierra (Sounds of the Land) in early 2002. The program engages entire towns in supporting music education and performance, and in so doing, creates new ways of thinking about development challenges.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2005:

  • With the slogan “The young person who plays Mozart by day does not break shop windows at night,” the project “Sonidos de la Tierra,” Sounds of the Earth, founded by Luis Szarán, today reaches more than 14,000 children and young people from Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Uruguay.
  • In Oct. 2013, Sonidos broke the Guinness World Record for the largest harp ensemble! 420 Paraguayan harpists doubled the previous record of 201 musicians set in Edinburgh in 2006.
  • Sonidos played at the 2012 American Music Awards.
  • In 2012, they launched a new program: The H20 Orchestra, with instruments made of bottles, hoses, pipes and funnels, to promote the importance of water.
  • Music schools and youth orchestras are currently carrying on their activities and work in over 180 cities, towns, rural and slum schools. The beneficiaries manage the program, generating 88% of the financial resources by their own means, with the remaining budget filled by donor contributions.
  • More than 400 musical instruments, including recycled musical instruments made out of garbage, have been built at the organization’s musical instrument workshops.



© 2015 Skoll Foundation.