Rolando Alarcón

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Rolando Alarcón
Birth nameRolando Alarcón Soto
Born(1929-08-05)August 5, 1929
OriginSantiago de Chile
DiedFebruary 4, 1973(1973-02-04) (aged 43)
Nueva Canción
Years active1951–1973
Associated actsCuncumén
Silvia Urbina

Rolando Alarcón Soto (Santiago de Chile, August 5, 1929 – February 4, 1973), was a Chilean singer-songwriter and teacher,[1] known for compositions like "Si somos americanos", "Mocito que vas Remando", "Doña Javiera Carrera" or "El hombre".


Early life[edit]

Rolando born on August 5, 1929, in Santiago de Chile,[1] son of a primary school teacher and a miner,[2] he lived most of his childhood and adolescence in Sewell and Chillan respectively.[3] During his stay in Chillan during his youth, he studied guitar and piano.[4] In the 1950s Alarcón moved to Santiago de Chile, where he trained as a teacher, teaching in public schools and high schools. In 1955, as a result of one of the summer Seasonal Schools taught by Margot Loyola at the University of Chile, formed the Cuncumén group, in which Alarcon took over as artistic director. He would hold the position for seven years, during which time the folk group toured Chile and Europe extensively, and recorded six albums.[2]


In 1960 his first album titled "Traditional Chilean Songs", was released in United States on the Folkways Records label, it was recorded when Alarcón was still part of group Cuncumén. The album consists mainly of Rolando's interpretations of songs Chileans folkloric songs of the 19th century. In 1988 the label "Alerce" reissued the album under the title "Canciones tradicionales",[5] In 1962, after a tour of the socialist European countries, Alarcón and Silvia Urbina (also a former member of Cuncumén), formed a duo, and they recorded a single with Russian songs and six own songs, among them, "Doña Javiera Carrera" (song that won a college songwriting competition[1]). Urbina and Alarcón joined the "La imagen de Chile" tour, which toured Peru, Panama and United States.[2] During 1963 composed some solo songs like: "¿A dónde vas, soldado?" (Where are you going, soldier?), which gender controversy due to its antimilitarist content. In addition, he wrote songs of social commitment such as "Yo Defiendo a Mi Tierra" (I defend my land); and others more linked to the Chilean tradition, such as "Mocito que vas Remando" (Little boy you're going rowing).[4]

Upon his return, the professor joined the cast of "La pérgola de las flores" (The pergola of flowers), for a tour to Mexico, a trip in which he composed: "Si somos Americans" (If we are Americans),[2] a song of clear continental feeling,[4] that was included in 1965 on the album Rolando Alarcón y sus canciones, his first solo work. In 1967 he released "El nuevo Rolando Alarcón", where the composer's turn was towards social contingency and towards sounds that moved away from folklore and approached other more modern expressions, the album included "a-go-go" rhythms performed along with Los Tickets. In 1968 he recorded and published the album Canciones de la Guerra Civil Española (Songs of the Spanish Civil War), on his just created record label, "Tiempo" (one of the few albums of his today available on the market).[2] According to the back cover of the LP, all the songs are popular Spanish songs, except "No pasarán" (Not pass), which would belong to Rolando. Carlos Valladares and Enrique San Martín from Los Emigrantes participated in the musical accompaniment,[6] Beginning his relationship with the duo Los Emigrantes, made up of Enrique San Martín and Carlos Valladares.[2]

In 1967 he participated for the first time in the Festival of Viña and achieved third place with "Niña climbs a la lancha", performed by Pedro Messone (a song that in 2000 was chosen among the ten best in the history of the festival). In 1969 she got an honorable mention at the First Festival of the Nueva Canción Chilena with the song titled "Canción de Juan el pobre",[2] in 1970, he won on the Viña del Mar International Song Festival, with the song "El hombre", performed by Los Emigrantes.[4] In 1971, was released on the DICAP label, Canta a los poetas soviéticos (Sing to the Soviet Poets), where he performs the work of the poet Yevgeni Yevtushenko and the singer-songwriter Bulat Shalvovich.[7]

By that date Alarcón was a determined activist in the campaign that would lead Salvador Allende and the Popular Unity to the command of political power in Chile. As an enthusiast for the cause, he participated intensely, until in 1973, in the middle of a "Chile Ríe y Canta" tour, his heart broke when he tried to push a bus on the Matadero-Palma route, in which the cast of the rock was traveling. An old ulcer caused internal bleeding and he died on February 4 in Santiago.[2]

Posthumous recognitions[edit]

Months after his death, the Lonqui Trio composed "Canción para Rolando" in homage to Alarcón. However, in September there was the Coup d'état against Salvador Allende that started the Pinochet's dictatorship, for which his records and songs were censored, and his friends had to go into exile (like Héctor Pavez), they either disappeared or were assassinated (like Víctor Jara).

In 2000, one decade after the return to Democracy, his song "Niña, sube a la lancha" participated in the Viña del Mar Festival, being performed by the folk group Cantamérica. In 2005, the Canal 13 made a national song chapter where they talked about the Nueva Canción Chilena (New Chilean Song) and the artist Rolando Alarcón. In 2009, the teacher and musician Carlos Valladares and the journalist Manuel Vilches published the book "Rolando Alarcón", the song in the night, through Editora Nacional Quimantú, which talks about the life and work of the troubadour.

In 2010, on the occasion of the Olmué Festival, Rolando Alarcón was represented by the group Las Cuatro Brujas; in that competition, he finally won Víctor Jara as the "best Chilean composer of all time". On February 4, 2013, in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the departure of the folklorist, a concert was held at the Mesón Nerudiano restaurant, where musicians Felo [es], Eduardo Peralta, Marcos Acevedo, Rafael Manríquez, among others, participated. On that occasion, the future release of an album of covers by different artists with the songs of Rolando Alarcón[8] was also announced. It was also announced that throughout 2013 the book written by Vilches y Valladares would be relaunched and, in turn, a tribute album would be released with the participation of artists from Nueva Canción Chilena and Neofolklore.[9]


Studio albums

  • Traditional Chilean Songs (Folkways Records) (1960; reissued in 1988 by Alerce label)
  • Chile nuevo vol. 1 (1964)
  • Rolando Alarcón y sus canciones (RCA Victor) (1965)
  • La peña de los Parra (1965)
  • Rolando Alarcón (RCA Victor) (1966)
  • El nuevo Rolando Alarcón (EMI Odeón Chilena) (1967)
  • Canciones de la Guerra Civil Española (Astral) (1968)
  • Voz para el camino (1968)
  • El mundo folklórico de Rolando Alarcón (Astral) (1969)
  • A la resistencia española (1969)
  • Por Cuba y Vietnam (1969)
  • El hombre (1970)
  • Chile ríe y canta (1970)
  • Canta a los poetas soviéticos (DICAP) (1971)
  • Canciones desde una prisión (1971)
  • El alma de mi pueblo (1972)

Compilation albums

  • Todo Rolando Alarcón (1998)


  1. ^ a b c Alarcón, Rodrigo (January 31, 2015). "La desconocida vida del profesor Rolando Alarcón « Diario y Radio U Chile" (in Spanish). Retrieved June 9, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Rolando Alarcón". Rolando Alarcón | (in Spanish). Retrieved June 9, 2021.
  3. ^ "Texto biográfico busca hacer justicia al fallecido folclorista Rolando Alarcón". (in Spanish). Retrieved June 13, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d "Rolando Alarcón – Memoria Chilena, Biblioteca Nacional de Chile". Retrieved June 9, 2021.
  5. ^ "Rolando Alarcón: Traditional chilean songs (1960) | PERRERAC" (in Spanish). January 22, 2017. Retrieved June 9, 2021.
  6. ^ "Rolando Alarcón: Canciones de la guerra civil española (1968) | PERRERAC" (in Spanish). Retrieved June 13, 2021.
  7. ^ "Rolando Alarcón: Canta a los poetas soviéticos (1971) | PERRERAC" (in Spanish). Retrieved June 13, 2021.
  8. ^ "Concierto y disco a los 40 años de la muerte de Rolando Alarcón". Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  9. ^ S.A.P, El Mercurio. "Todas las noticias de Último Minuto | |". (in Spanish). Retrieved February 22, 2021.

External links[edit]