El Pirarucu de Oro -- International Folk Music Festival

Every year for three days at the end of November, the El Pirarucu de Oro festival is held in Leticia, Amazonas, Colombia. The festival takes its name, Pirarucu, from a fish found in the region that can weigh up to 150 pounds and grow over six feet long. The fish is an endangered species which has lead Colombia, Brazil and Peru to declare a ban on the catching or killing of the fish from November-March of every year. The festival takes place during the ban as a tribute not only to the music of the area, but to the fish so closely associated with sustenance in the Amazon.

This year the festival is celebrating its 22nd consecutive year. There are several categories of competition:

1- Murgas Leticianas -- People of any age can participate in this category, but the songs must reflect the music of the area of Leticia and the surrounding region.

2- Cantantes Aficionados -- In this impromptu contest, participants must sing about an assigned topic (they cannot receive help from the audience) and are accompanied by a musical group that plays the different rhythms of the region.

3- Montaje Musical Dancistico -- These are coreographed dances which display through dance the daily life of the people of the region.

4- Composititor /Autor -- A theme is given prior to the event and composers write songs that are then judged with a prize awarded

There are also prizes for:
5- Best Musical group
6- Best Artist
7- Best Amazonian Song of the year

One of the greats of the music of the Amazon is Pedro Bernal. He won the best all around performer at the 8th Piracuru festival. This year, he was selected to represent the department of Amazonas in the recent GRAN CONCIERTO NACIONAL 2009 which was held in Bogota recently. You can see his performance at the National Concert here:


EVEN BETTER -- see him sing the National Anthem accompanied by a singing group of Ticuna Indians that sing the anthem in their native language.



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