Petronio Álvarez in Cali was one the best events that I’ve attended all year. And the best part – it’s free! This is a six day festival that takes place in August every year, celebrating Pacific Afro culture in Colombia.

How was the Petronio Alvarez Festival created?

The Cali Cultural Director Germán Patiño was the Cultural Director of Cali, who gave form and life to the Pacific Music Festival “Petronio Álvarez” creating from the outset the contest that established the categories of: “Chirimía, Marimba y Agrupación Libre” The festival was inaugurated on August 6, 1997 at the Los Cristales Open Air Theater as a social space for congregation and reflection on the cultural heritage of the Pacific tradition.

What is the purpose of the Petronio Alvarez Festival?

The Pacific Music Festival “Petronio Álvarez”, or simply “El Petronio”, is a festival dedicated to the music of Colombian Pacific folklore or related directly to it. It is held in the city of Santiago de Cali, Colombia, in the month of August. It seeks to highlight composers, musical groups and researchers of music of Afro-Colombian origin. It is organized by local institutions related to culture and promoted by the Secretary of Culture and Tourism of the Mayor of Santiago de Cali.

Who was Petronio Alvarez?

Petronio Alvarez was born in Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca; From his childhood he dreamed of music, was his main passion. The situation forced him to sell bread and empanadas de cambray, typical of Valle del Cauca, made by his mother, Juana Francisca. The most practical way to enthuse the buyers was to sing to the sound of improvisation: empanadas de cambray, for the old ones, here it is, the one that does not buy them to me, leave them there.

Not only was he a folklorist, he was a versatile musician. He sang and composed tangos and milongas because he admired Carlos Gardel, he sang songs like El suicida, Recuerdo, El cortito, Con mi guitarra, Canto en arrabal, and Chest is hurting me. It was called the Gardel del Puerto. In 1961 he settled in Cali, where he lived until his death on December 10, 1966 of a bone cancer.

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