Andres talks to Nirbija about playing guitar, Osho‘s friends in Chile, working as a composer for documentaries, and his wish to create more understanding about Nature with sound and music.
How did you start your journey into music?
Everything comes from my mother. She was a very good guitar player. She had four kids so she did not have time to perform. When I was around 13, I asked her to show me the chords of one song – and I fell in love with the guitar! I just learned it by myself. Then I began to meet friends in and out of school and we all played around with our instruments. That is a very good way to learn, you are not alone, you share and experiment. Later I studied music and classical guitar at a music school in Santiago del Chile. There I got all the knowledge about harmonies, and music theory for the guitar. That opened for me the whole spectrum of this instrument.
Another factor was the influence of other musicians. You hear a song and feel that it is beautiful. And you begin to play a little bit like that special guitar player. I liked very much: Leo Brouwer from Cuba, Brazilian Egberto Gismonti, John McLaughlin, Baden Powell, Julian Bream. I listened to their music a lot. Each had his own style of playing the guitar.
How did you come to Osho?
The Osho scene in Chile was very strong; pretty much all of my friends were sannyasins. I was raised in a very traditional Catholic family. Somehow Osho, when I met friends who had taken sannyas, never called me to take sannyas. I became very interested in his philosophy and in this way of life. It opened my eyes. I began to read a lot about his teachings.
In 2000 my sannyasin friend, Subhira, asked me if I wanted to go to Europe. He suggested that we could perform at some Osho Centres: Parimal, Risk, Miasto and Uta in Cologne. We travelled from Spain to Denmark. That‘s how I found Parimal – where I met Navino, who then became my wife and partner in life as well as on stage as a singer and leader of our Sufi groups.
The link was through music.
Before that, your love for music and sound got you involved in documentary films on nature in Chile. What did you do?
In 1982, I was invited to work as a location sound man for a series of documentary films for a TV Station in Chile. I had the luck of being able to travel through Chile for seven years, filming and recording nature and the human geography. Chile is a very unique country and it is lovely to show that. It is almost 5000 km long. There are many climates and cultures. We went from the desert to the fjords, from the high Andes mountains to the Pacific Ocean.
We would be six months on the road filming and six months in the TV station for the editing and post production. I was also invited to compose the music. We did 12 documentaries each year, a very beautiful experience. To know the country, its beauty and its problems. To meet its different peoples, to go deep into the National Parks.
I was blessed to be recording sounds of the Planet. This is the voice of nature, expressing itself to be listened to. Once I had recorded the sounds, I mixed them with the music I had composed. In that way a new dimension was offered to the listeners, transporting them to a pleasant meditative space. These recordings have an immense power to inspire, to create consciousness about what is surrounding us, to educate. They can evoke strong, deep emotions.
The most inspiring part of being a sound engineer in the wild is: listening carefully. What people normally perceive with their eyes, a sound mixer needs to anticipate from his experience and dedication to the thrilling and often mysterious world of sound. You must be willing to walk along forbidden paths or to climb down to dark caves or canyons to find these treasures.
Nature is threatened. Thousands of wildfire outbreaks were reported this year, but in Chile in 2020, a decrease of approximately 20 percent was reported compared to 2018. Can you give an example of how this country protects its forests?
I was involved in a very interesting project called Bosqueduca [Forest Education] in Chile, supported by the Ministry of Education. I made a CD with sounds and travelled with a group of people teaching throughout the country.
We gave instructions and inspired the teachers how to teach forest protection. In all the schools that we went to, the teachers became involved in this important subject. That was a new way to bring my music out through education. [At present Andres is creating a CD for a government agency in Germany.]
One of the purposes of my music is to show how beautiful this planet is and how fragile existence can be. That is what Jacques Cousteau had shown to me with his TV documentaries [e.g. the series The Undersea World of the 1970’s]. He researched the unknown deep oceans and demonstrated how fragile nature is. Now we can see every day how the climate is changing. People like him were visionaries.
In what ways do you as a musician express your support for Mother Earth?
When I began getting involved in environmental issues, I said, “OK, I have a very powerful tool – music. Let’s use it to create consciousness about what we have and how we can lose it in one second.” That was also one of the main purposes of our concert in the London Royal Albert Hall in 1992 – to show the beauty of Nature in Chile. We projected a huge swan on the screen above the stage. As a musician, if you perform with music and pictures, you get very inspired. It was a magic evening; six hours of music from 12 countries – pretty much all of Latin America. The theatre was full; about 5000 visitors came. With so much history – and with classical music, and events every week – we got a very good response.
Through these experiences it became my mission to contribute something, to protect nature and to bring awareness to the new generations of what we still have on this planet. Life and Nature are so fragile. We need to take care of it. I really believe that we can make a change and somehow balance the chaos created by some people who are in charge of politics, people whose decisions are sometimes ruled by money and greed. It is a pity, because we could make this world a beautiful place for all.
There needs to be a chance for everybody. The quality of life, I think, could be much higher; we could go more for the spiritual side of life, with much more love and awareness.
Andres, thank you for your sharing!
Related article and discourse
- Navino and Andres: Soulmates on Stage – When Nirbija had a few beginners’ guitar lessons with his neighbour at Osho Parimal, Andres Condon, he made amazing discoveries about this remarkable guitar player and his wife Navino
- Our whole approach… is destructive – “This whole life is geared around wrong things. Money is more important than meditation,” says Osho, answering a disciple’s question
- Elizabeth Kolbert, Under a White Sky. The Nature of the Future, 2021, hardcover
- Alan Weisman, The World Without Us, available with Amazon, reviewed by Madhuri for Osho News
- A remarkable recent film on ecology in India by Akanksha Damini Joshi: Earth Witness: Reflections of the Times and the Timeless – youtu.be
- Jacques Cousteau – The Undersea World – TV Series: youtu.be
Nature images thanks to Andres’ friend, Andel Paulmann
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