A Gathering of Strings - OZY | A Modern Media Company

A Gathering of Strings

A Gathering of Strings

By Lorena O'Neil

A group of Paraguayan children play their harps in Asuncion, Paraguay, 26 October 2013. Paraguay is trying to break the Guinness World Record for the largest number of harpists playing at the same time and gathered 200 musicians
SourceAndres Cristaldo/Corbis


When 420 harpists of all ages join together to break a world record, why wouldn’t you want to watch?

By Lorena O'Neil

A 6-year-old playing a harp? Adorable. 420 harpists, more than half of them children, playing in unison? A Guinness World Record.

On Saturday, October 26, Paraguay shattered the record for world’s largest harp ensemble, previously held by 201 harpists in Scotland. 210 men and 210 women sitting in a semicircle forming the red, white and blue Paraguayan flag formed the orchestra, conducted by Luis Szarán Borecka. They fused two national tunes, “Bell Bird” by Félix Pérez Cardozo and “Cart Guy” by José del Rosario Diarte, for a performance that lasted about six minutes. (Full disclosure: In a country where everyone seems either to know each other or be related, the author was amused to learn while researching this piece that she’s the great-grandniece of Rosario Diarte. Also, her cousin worked at one of the nonprofits that helped organize the ensemble. Because: Paraguay.)

The musicians came from 39 cities in Paraguay, as well as a few from Brazil, England, Japan and Peru, and they performed in the country’s capital, Asunción. A majority of the musicians were Paraguayan youth who had been brought from the rural parts of the nation to the capital via the nonprofit organizations Plan Paraguay , Sounds of Earth and Our Earth Foundation . The youngest musician was 6-year-old Maura Glober. Way to make us all feel unaccomplished, Glober.

The ensemble was called #SuenaParaguay (Paraguay Sounds) because even the world’s largest harp ensemble needs a hashtag.

Watch and listen below!

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