How the Latino EcoFestival is Using Music to Inspire Conservation

The third annual Americas Latino EcoFestival is ongoing in Denver, and it’s using music to inspire conservation efforts.

The downtown festival, which features over 400 presenters and takes place now through Saturday at the Denver Art Museum, History Colorado and Denver Public Library, features presentations by advocates and experts designed to educate people on major climate issues and also Latin musicians whose work extends beyond entertainment.

“My mission and the core of my music is to inspire and to empower people and in this setting i look forward to just that — to open people’ s hearts as well as their minds,” says Nestor Torres, a Grammy -winning Puerto Rican flutist who will be performing at the festival.

Torres says he doesn’t see himself as an activist per se, but he creates music with the idea to “activate people’s humanity."

“It’s very inspiring, I’m here for [founder Irene Vilar] and for the greater cause and what she stands for,” Torres says. “It’s about everyone coming and learning and experiencing. It will be fulfilling and engaging.”

Vilar says she believes that one can use the arts as an impactful vehicle for raising environmental awareness, so she and the festival have invited Torres, along with three other musicians, to perform and speak.

Andres Useche, another performer is a multi-faceted artist. He’s a musician and a filmmaker, who creates activist films to educate and inspire.

“We have terrible needs and there are great injustices,” says Useche. “Art can be important to inspire and create change. I became a volunteer with different causes and while doing that I learned I could not only knock on doors and try to get petitions signed, I could use music and video to try to accomplish that and reach more people.”

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Useche works to create pieces of art that are more statements than just aesthetically moving.

“I write and direct short films at this point,” Useche says. “I also write my songs and perform them and also make the music videos, all for different causes that I believe in.”

At this festival, Useche will be giving an interactive presentation where he will be showing some of his films and explaining his creative process, hopefully to inspire others.

“I think it’s very important for us, the Latino community, to take on that responsibility we have ... to lead and push and work hard for what we believe in,” Useche says.

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