Sonia Caceres recently completed a master’s research project that focused on a family-based traditional music and dance ensemble from Colombia of which she is a member. She created a website of videos of participants performing and also explaining the instruments that were used in the ensemble, most of which are made from local Colombian materials.

To view her website, click here.

Sonia with violin

The new alumna from the Music & Culture MA program says this project represented a big challenge for her. “I had to explore very strong emotions as I had to face the loss of a couple of members of my family. Being here in Canada and watching the videos of everyone playing together deeply touched me and I found myself in tears on more than one occasion.”

A major motivation for her research project was Caceres’ pride in her culture and family. “I have encountered too many ideas about bad things from Colombia and wrong stereotypes so I wanted to show a different face of my country – a country full of musical culture, warm people and a richness of a changing country.”

She was able to travel to Colombia in January 2021 to record members of the group. “I recorded different dances, rhythms, instruments and I took pictures of our traditional performance dresses. I also researched previous videos to compare and explain the variety and modifications of the music.”

At that time, she recorded the following video in her family home. Caceres is the last person on the right side. She is playing a carraca, which is made from the jaw of a cow. Other people involved in the video are her maternal grandfather who is 95, her mom, dad, sister, some of her aunts, her cousin and her cousin’s dad.

Caceres shares that she was surrounded by music since she was a baby. “My mom and my dad used to bring me to music festivals and carry me during the musical parades or performances. My baby toys were replaced by maracas, quiribillos, chuchos and minor percussion instruments from the Colombian Andean Region.”

In 2017, she completed an undergraduate music degree at the Industrial University of Santander in Bucaramanga. After graduating, she decided to come to Canada to learn English. She then pursued a graduate diploma from the University of Ottawa to study violin performance.

And then, she heard about the MA in Music and Culture at Carleton University. “I was motivated to explore another component of music that allowed me to learn the impact that music has in different cultures and in people, and there was also an opportunity to learn and to grow as a musician.”

Caceres shares: “I have always said that one of the main reasons for me being in this program was the quality of professors that the music program has. All professors were very open and willing to help me. But there is one person that was my cheerleader during all the program and that marked my life significantly. Professor Anna Hoefnagels was there from the beginning to the end of my entire program. I feel that I have learned a lot from her in the professional and personal aspects of my life. She was the one that believed in me and was always there willing to help.”

Asked about her future plans, Caceres says: “Well, there are lots of plans but concerning music, I would love to pursue a doctorate as well continuing playing and teaching music. I feel that there is still a lot to learn and that I will find a new musical path to explore.”

Caceres graduated this fall from Carleton University. You can check out the University’s graduation website by clicking here.

Sonia Caceres

Wednesday, November 10, 2021 in , ,
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