Kansas City jazz musicians celebrate with Chilean musicians and students following their first concert at the public library in Frutillar, Chile. More than 40 students participated in a music exchange led by Kansas City musicians. The trip and the concert series in Chile is sponsored by Unesco Creative Cities-KC and the United States Embassy in Chile. Contributed Photo

By Michael Bushnell

Four women in the Kansas City Jazz scene took off from the Kansas City airport on Saturday bound for Frutillar, Chile, to perform with Chilean musicians as part of a cultural exchange between the two cities.

Accompanying the group are the Kansas City Museum’s Anna Marie Tutera and Paul Gutiérrez, program partners with The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and University of Missouri – Kansas City Associate Professor Dr. Jacob Wagner, a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities program.

Musicians making the trip from Kansas City are vocalist Paula Sanders-Lewis, flutist Amber Underwood, saxophonist Aryana Nemati and pianist Angela Ward. They will be joined by Chilean musicians percussionist Manuel Paez, guitarist Italo Aguilera and bassist Felipe Canales in the classroom teaching local students and on stage together for a concert on Saturday.

“The musicians have been teaching each day with around 50 students,” Wagner said. “The response has been incredible. The students and the teachers are working through the language differences with grace and patience. We hope this is the beginning of a great friendship with our musicians and creative friends here in the south of Chile.” 

The week-long trip provides an opportunity to share Kansas City’s rich musical heritage and culture with students in Frutillar. The trip culminates with the Kansas City delegation joining the Chilean students in three concerts to be played at Teatro del Lago (Theater of the Lake) along with tour stops in a number of small, surrounding towns en route to the American Corners at the Universidad Austral in Valdivia, Chile.

Kansas City jazz musicians practice with Chilean musicians ahead of their concert tonight. Contributed Photo

The project is funded primarily by the United States Embassy in Santiago, Chile. The trip also celebrates the 200th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the the two countries. On January 27, 1823, the United States Senate confirmed the first Minister Plenipotentiary – a diplomatic agent ranking below an ambassador but possessing full power and authority – to Chile.

In addition to the musical collaboration, representatives of the two cities will meet to discuss the role of best practices in local museum curation and the role of creative cities policies in community development.