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September de 2003

"Tío Lalo" receives the Award Orden al Mérito Gabriela Mistral:
To Sir Lalo

For his contribution to Chilean folklore's renovation, specially the urban, and his work of promotion among younger generations, our beloved "Tío" Lalo Parra -Violeta Parra's only brother who still holds the guitar- was awarded by the Secretary of Education with the "Orden al Mérito Docente y Cultural Gabriela Mistral". It is a government award created in 1977 which, since then, has been given to an endless list of artists, including the composer of Arica´s hymn and British rocker Sting.

Combining spice with gallantry, his stories, his endless energy and beloved popular songs and "cuecas choras", Tio Lalo seduces his audience. The same respect with which he approaches everybody is the one he has always received. He is a true gentleman, now made official by this award.

He has become the idol for younger generations that want to nurture themselves with a more local tradition, more genuine. His charisma and experience make him a living myth. At 85, he is still active, full of projects, married to a woman forty years younger, and the spirit of any party he may attend.

The "Orden al Merito Docente y Cultural" (Cultural and Teaching Merit Order) has been defined as "the highest recognition that the government gives to Chileans and foreigners that have outstood in the areas of culture and education". It was created by the Act N°013017 on October 31st, 2002. It consists of a medal and a band, and no financial reward. In its different categories (caballero, comendador, gran oficial and lazo de dama) the award has recognized the work of male and female writers, musicians, teachers, priests, scientific, painters and actors.

In the area of heritage preservation, it was given to the Swiss expert in restoration Roberto Montandon, who developed a work with National Monuments for fifty years. In the field of popular music, it was given to Lucho Gatica for being "one of the most remarkable romantic singers of 20th Century's second half". Other exponents of the folkloric root, like Inti-Illimani, had already worn the honorific band. In classical music, the choirs director Vicente Bianchi and the soprano Verónica Villaroel have also been part of the list. Among the awarded writers, Jorge Edwards and Francisco Coloane. In painting, Roberto Matta, José Balmes, Marta Colvin, Nemesio Antúnez. In stage arts, the actress Malú Gatica, dancer and choreographer Patricio Bunster, and opera-singer Cristina Gallardo-Domas.

Important foreign creators, such as Mexican writer Hector Aguilar Camín, US photographer Louis Stettner, and British rocker Gordon Summer -Sting-, who was recognized for his contribution to the Human-Rights cause and his commitment with the relatives of the disappeared. The list goes on with the names of some of the most important men of the cultural world, such as the historian Leopoldo Castedo, Senator Gabriel Valdés, and multi-artist Claudio Di Girólamo. Teacher Alicia González Opazo was awarded when turning 100 years of age. Valparaíso´s major, Hernán Pinto, was recently awarded after this city was recognized as part of Humanity's Heritage.

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