Songs of rebellion and hope

August 9, 1995

Beyond Joy
Luz Acuna Aguayo in concert
Musical arrangements by Carlos Cordova Q.
August 12, 7.30pm
Petersham Town Hall, Sydney
Previewed by Lisa Macdonald

If you're a fan of the music and poetry inspired by the Latin American New Song Movement, get along to hear Chilean-born singer/songwriter Luz Acuna Aguayo's second recital, Beyond Joy, in Sydney on August 12.

A largely self-taught musician and singer, Acuna has performed in bands and solo since 1968. Brought up in a peasant family in southern Chile, Acuna was exposed to left politics at an early age and has been an activist ever since.

Following the military coup which ousted the democratically elected Socialist Party government in Chile in 1973, Acuna suffered the political persecution imposed on so many leftists at the time. She and her family all lost their jobs, and many of her friends disappeared. She arrived in Australia as a political refugee in 1978.

Ten years ago, Acuna began composing her own songs based on these experiences. A number of them have been published in Chilean, Spanish and Australian publications. In 1994, she released her first cassette, titled Un Canto Latino Americano (A Latin American Song).

Acuna's compositions proudly reflect her working-class roots and her belief that "struggling against injustice gives meaning to life". They deal with subjects ranging from the everyday, (such as her tribute song "Mum"), to indigenous land rights ("To the Mapuche People"), refugees ("The Migrant and the Sea"), cultural dissent ("To the Memory of a Singer"), as well as many songs about the struggle for women's liberation and socialism.

Unlike much of the liberation music that has emerged from the Third World, Acuna's works reveal a strong internationalism, a perspective she attributes to the influence of her parents' discussions about the Spanish Civil War when she was a child, and her own observations of the Cuban revolution. In her composition "Third World Labourer", she sings:
"If I am asked where I come from,
"I will answer that I am a labourer,
"that in the empire of greed,
"exploitation hurts the same."

The New Song Movement produced music which reflected a deep anger at injustice, suffering and imperialist greed in Latin America. It is not "feel good" music, and Acuna's work is no exception. True to the movement's tradition, however, her songs, and her performance of them, are also full of hope, rebelliousness and optimism about the capacity of people to fight for and create a better world. Acuna paints a vision of a free, just and joyous world: "When there is not one heart left in this world/ which does not tremble at the suffering of others,/ when the word 'us' means the same as 'me'".

For more information about the Beyond Joy concert, phone (02) 299 2215 or 628 3780.

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