Sept. 11, 2013, was not only the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States, it was also the 40th anniversary of a military coup d'etat in Chile that began a reign of terror on the Chilean people that lasted nearly two decades.
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, "The Other Sept. 11," as it is now known, was remembered at Holyoke Community College this week, through music and poetry, with a performance by Alturas Duo in the Leslie Phillips Theater.
In particular, the presentation remembered the lives of two Chilean artists: composer and folk singer Victor Jara and Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda. Jara was assassinated on Sept. 15, 1973, in the bloody aftermath of the coup; Neruda died on Sept. 23, 1973, purportedly of a heart attack, though some believe he too may have been murdered.
"On the 40th anniversary of their deaths, we remember their legacy of great music and poetry, and their struggle for justice and equality, not just for Latin America, but for the world," said HCC Spanish professor Monica Torregrosa, a native of Chile who was 12 years old at the time of the coup and grew up during the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. "Although they died in that dark Septembeer 40 years ago, their legacy continues to inspire people around the world."
The Wednesday event was sponsored by Student Activities and the Foreign Language Department at HCC. Alturas Duo (Scott Hill on classical guitar and Chilean Carlos Boltes on viola and charango) played songs by the socialist Jara about laborers and the common people of Chile; special guests recited poems by Neruda.
One of them, Hugo Gonzales, who was ordained in Chile as a Roman Catholic priest and is now a social worker, read Neruda's "Poema XV" and also sang a few songs with Alturas Duo.
"This is not just music for us," Gonzales said. "It is part of our history. "I spent all my life fighting the dictatorship. Music was at the center of the soul of what we were doing, defending human rights and advocating for poor people."
The concert was just the first of several events planned at HCC this month for Hispanic Heritage Month.
On Tuesday, Oct. 8., there will be a screening of the movie Latinos Beyond Reel, in the Kittredge Center, room 301-303 from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
On Wednesday, Oct. 9, Expo Latino, a celebration of Latin American food and music, will be back for its third year in the HCC Courtyard, during Student Activity Period, 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Photos: (Left) Hugo Gonzales sings with Alturas Duo. (Right) Alturas Duo (Scott Hill on guitar and Carlos Boltes on viola) perform in the Leslie Phillips Theater Wednesday.