Maria Claudia Parias, Restoring Lives Through Music

Maria Claudia Parias, Restoring Lives Through Music

As executive president of the Batuta Foundation, she reaches the most remote communities that are victims of the Colombian armed conflict to teach music.

For her cultural management, Maria Claudia Parias will receive the Patrick Hayes Award granted by the International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA) in New York in January 2023.

With a genuine and warm smile, the social communicator, journalist, and cultural manager, María Claudia Parias, receives us. She has held high positions in various scenarios that have allowed her to shout from the rooftops that Colombia, her homeland, is the cradle of great cultural expressions that leave the country’s name very high outside its borders. She proclaims her passion for culture everywhere with a particular emotion that does not lose validity and has moved her professional steps over the years. 

In the early 1990s, María Claudia found her first cultural scene in Cali, the world capital of salsa, as director of communications for that city’s Art Festival: “I combined this activity with cultural journalism

She contributed to her academic training and completed a master’s degree in cultural management in Barcelona, ​​Spain. Her professional background has led her to occupy high positions for the Bogotá Art Museum, the International,  and Colombia´s Ministry of Culture. She also remembers her work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia as secretary of the Colombian Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO and director of cultural affairs.

For her joy, life has put in front of her the scenarios and means to project Colombia and its culture worldwide: “International cultural management has shown me multiple horizons in which I have been able to learn about politics and regulations beyond the borders of my country. And design projects that have nurtured my knowledge of the importance of culture in developing nations”.

Music for vulnerable children and youth

Nearly a decade ago, this great Colombian woman found the Batuta Foundation on her path. Through a public announcement, she became the executive president of this organization, which she describes as “wonderful because we are dedicated to musical training for children and young people from a social perspective with the idea not only of guaranteeing them their cultural rights but also their human rights through the practice of music and their incorporation into the musical language.”

The Batuta Foundation has a great reach; it brings its influence on the most vulnerable and economically depressed places: “We are fortunate that Colombia conceives music as an element of the development of the least favored communities, including those whose members have been victims of the armed conflict.” It is a non-governmental organization of a diverse nature created in 1991 for public interest purposes that receive contributions from the State, private companies, and international organizations: “In compliance with the Victims Law, the State makes important contributions to bring music to spaces where it performs as an element of healing for those who have suffered the rigors of armed violence in Colombia,” explains María Claudia.

There is her heart

The heart and happiness of María Claudia Parias are in this foundation with which she feels in love. At its service, she has put hours and hours of management to develop projects that deliver knowledge and joy to more and more Colombian territories. Three general principles govern its management: increase the number of children and adolescents who are integrated into the transforming power of music; reach regions far from the cities, practically unexplored culturally speaking, and generate extraordinary experiences that dignify the lives of those who benefited by Batuta Foundation not only through music but also through artistic design.

The Foundation applies a musical methodology called “school orchestra.” Parias explains that the idea is not to look for genius children, but “collectively, each one of the students goes through the ensemble, plays various instruments and sings with the choir in a group exercise that recognizes their multiple abilities because what we want is to enrich the daily life of the communities. Children learn to work as a team, respect rules, and incorporate values ​​into their daily lives, becoming resilience tutors. Some become professional musicians, which positively changes their lives and those of their families”.  This process is beautifully exemplified in a video starring a little boy named Angel Isaac, which can be seen at

Many of these children never dreamed of flying on a plane or sleeping in a hotel, much less being trained by experienced musicians: “Thanks to their learning -explains María Claudia- they take part in high-level concerts in the best theaters in the country and, sometimes, of the world. Furthermore, they participate in cultural exchanges with similar organizations in Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, and Venezuela, among others.

In addition to the Batuta Foundation, Maria Claudia´s great loves are her children Felipe, 26, and Milan, 19: “I adore them, and we have a beautiful relationship.” Aside from the cultural scene, she reads philosophy, likes to spend time with friends she sees frequently, and to whom she dedicates all her affection and solidarity. Next January, this valuable Colombian woman will receive the ISPA| Patrick Hays Award for her extensive and significant cultural leadership.

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