By: Ma. Fernanda Soria @mafersoria
We interviewed Jorge Saade Scaff, who is considered the greatest violinist of Ecuador and one of the best in Latin America, he was recently named as the Cultural Director of Guayaquil, on January 19th this year. The Minister of Culture, Erika Silva, was commissioned to make the announcement. The Cultural Direction of Guayaquil handles spaces in Guayas, Santa Elena and Manabi.
Saade had his first contact with the art at age of six, when he received private violin lessons at his home, then he graduated as bachelor of music at the Antonio Neumane conservatory, later he obtained a bachelor’s degree as a concert violinist. He got a scholarship to study at the University of Miami, at Frost School, where he graduated with a degree in music, majoring in music performance. He made several courses in Europe as well, in fact, he was the first Latinamerican student accepted in the prestigious Mozarteum Institute in Salzburg (Austria), he also attended the Conservatory of Trento in Italy and he furtherly received a scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in music with a specialization in Latin American music at the Catholic University in Washington.
Saade celebrated 40 years as a violinist last year, his life is all about music and his career has given him the opportunity to travel the world. “Last year was one of the most intense years I have ever had, if I add up all the days I was out of the country, it was more than four months. I was in Paris, Italy, Genoa, Milan, Rome, I was in Tokyo, Beijing,Tianjin, which is the main port near Beijing, in Korea, at the international festival in Latin America. I gave several concerts…I was in Honduras with the National Symphony Orchestra in Salvador, with the National Symphony Orchestra in Paraguay. I gave several concerts in Peru and I also gave two concerts with the Symphony Orchestra of Guayaquil. I had a first tour to Arequipa and then to Lima, we were invited by President Allan Garcia in his possession at the presidential palace, it was a pretty intense year., and I gave concerts here in Ecuador as well, I appeared with the Symphony Orchestra of Cuenca and the National Symphony Orchestra in the house of music,” says the Cultural Director.
Due to the position Saade holds his career as a violinist will have to take a break. “With this position, I will not have the flexibility to travel, so my career will have to suffer a little because I can no longer travel with the intensity and frequency with which I have been traveling but I can not neglect it completely, I can not disappear from the music scene, which is what has been my life long career” says the violinist.
Saade was excited to collaborate as a director since the creation of the ministry of culture. “Economist Rafael Correa’s government is giving importance to culture, that is undeniable, because before this government, culture had always been an appendage of the Ministry of Education with an undersecretary in Quito, that was all that existed… Central Bank fulfilled that void with cultural directions across the country, in Quito, Cuenca and Guayaquil, but now it’s different, with the creation of the Ministry of Culture, which is something that should have been done many years ago, culture is finally given the place it deserves, “said Saade.
One of the most important positions the famous violinist has held in his life, is the role as representative of Ecuador at the OAS, where he worked for five years. “At the OAS, the cultural week of Ecuador is prepared annually, so for five consecutive years, I got to host this cultural week, bringing exhibitions of paintings, concerts and conferences,” says Saade, who also served as foreign minister in Washington.
Although the direction of culture is a political office, Saade says he does not want politics to culture. “I believe that culture should not be doing politics, culture should make cultural policy, which is very different,” he adds.
According to Saade, the diversity that exists in Ecuador is what unites it, he believes that the cultural element that identifies us, all Ecuadorians, is pasillo because “we speak differently, dress differently, have different traditions, but there is no Ecuadorian who doesn’t vibrate with pasillo.”
As Director of Culture, Saade hopes to change the perception that people have about museums. “I believe that the cultural spaces, especially museums, have to become living spaces. Museums are not just buildings housing valuable collections or places where they occasionally open art exhibitions, or present pre-Columbian pieces… In my opinion, museums should have constant activity, with parallel displays activity, to give life and movement to attract the public… I see young audience visits the organization of concerts, recitals, lectures, workshops, presentations of all kinds, drama, poetry, dance, music… I want to give life to these spaces, to attract the public. I think we have to work very closely with the provincial departments of education so that museums become a part of the curriculum of high school students, as well as university students, we have to work with all tour operators and tourism management to makethe museums a stop for all groups of tourists who visit the city, we must turn the museums into icons of the city,” says Saade.
Saade also wants to ensure “that the largest number of Ecuadorians know their cultural identity and cultural heritage”. “I think that’s the biggest issue that the cultural direction should work on, to get people to come visit and realize the treasure and cultural emphasis we have”.