There's no one more typical of Iquique than
Luis Advis. Even without living here, he sinks
his roots in our land, like a tamarugo tree. The
Advis family has been close to Iquique since the
19th Century, and have been able to read the subconsciousness
that this city hides behind its festive spirit.
During the 30s, Luis Advis —the mayor—- was focusing
all of his efforts on how to get the port out
of the saltpeter crisis.
Luis Advis Vitaglich was a
musician with a classical formation, but a popular
sensibility. Tired of seeing how the official
History ignored the horrible killings of December
21st, 1907, he composed the Santa María
de Iquique Cantata during the year 1969. The record
is still heard now, with the same admiration as
in the 70s. Under Pinochet the tapes used to run
from hand to hand. Today we have a digital recording,
as moving as the original version. For the Iquique
people, to know this record by heart is an obligation
if you want to call yourself "iquiqueño".
As a young man, what Luis
Advis really enjoyed was classical music. He had
a piano at his house, where he used to play Beethoven's
"Moon sonata". Advis was born in 1935
as part of an aristocratic family; and popular
music never seduced him until he became a student
in Santiago, where he met Gustavo Becerra and
Sergio Ortega, with whom he learnt to appreciate
the songs of Violeta Parra and Margot Loyola.
He is also the author of "Canto
para una semilla" ("Song for a seed")
and "Sinfonía los tres tiempos de
América" ("America's three-times
symphony"). Last January he recieved the
Presidente de la República Chilean Music
Award. The jury declared the work of Luis Advis
as part of a "continuos dedication to Chilean
music, unique for its fusion of classical and
folkloric elements, besides his several academic
efforts. It was hard for us to decide in which
field to recognize his work". And that's
true: it is hard to classify the work of this
author. He doesn't feel classical nor popular.
The people of Iquique feel
we have a doubt with Luis Advis. A doubt of gratitude,
of identity, of pride. It is not about giving
him a diploma -he must have enough of those for
sure. What we want is to invite him to the Puerto
Mayor y Mall, and at the Municipal Theater's
Mayor Hall give him those applauses he deserves;
no speeches, please. If Lautaro Nuñez was
a History National Award, and Mabel Condemarín
the Education National Award -both of them from
Iquique-, we ought to promote Luis Advis as our
Art National Award.
The Santa María School
Cantata is our national anthem. We sing it each
time we remember that relative of ours who was
shot on that December afternoon. For it to have
been written by somebody from Iquique proves once
again that nobody but us can talk about our History.
This work has prophetic traces. Finally, and as
a way of warning: "You who have already heard
the story that's been told...".
Published on January 25th
of the year 2004. La Estrella de Iquique newspaper.