in David’s words…
Leaving our hotel at 5:00am, we journeyed by direct flight over the Andes from Santiago to our next stop, Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, directly to the east, on the Atlantic southeastern coast of the continent. Extraordinarily, because of the narrowness of the continent at this point, one can fly from Pacific to Atlantic coasts in one and a half hours.
Uruguay is the second smallest country in South America, and almost its entire population is of European descent. It is one of the most progressive countries in South America, being the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex civil unions, in 2007.
First colonized by the Spanish and Portuguese in the 16th centure, the little region was fought over at various times by the Spanish, Portuguese and British, operating from neighboring Argentina and Brazil, until 1830, when Uruguay adopted its first constitution. During the rest of the 19th century, however, Uruguay endured military strife, especially the famous nine-year siege of Montivedeo by the Argentinians. The late 20th century also saw a rise in poverty and unemployment that led to dictatorships, corruption, torture, political prisons and the like, but that sorted itself out by 1996 when Uruguay had general elections. Since then, the government has been dealing with poverty, inflation and unemployment.
Uruguay’s fertile plains are home to its agricultural industry, the main source of its exports. Recently, however, Uruguay became the first South American country to export software.
Our concert was in the beautiful Teatro Solis (sun), right in the middle of town, steps from the central square with its statue of Jose Artigas on horseback (Artigas headed the successful revolution against the Spanish in 1811).
The interior of the theater reminded us of Milan’s La Scala.
After the concert we were greeted by Uruguayan Maestro Jose Serebrier, who was very warm and complimentary. He seemed to have forgotten ejecting Larry Dutton from a Juilliard Orchestra rehearsal (for misbehavior) back in the 1970’s!