The central parks of various cities in Guatemala are the heart of community life. These spaces are used by people of all ages, both young and old. Sometimes teenagers can be seen at La Antigua’s Parque Central, meeting with friends and walking around the park again and again while having animated conversations with their friends. One of the customs that has been maintained is using the parks as the setting for band concerts. These events allow residents and neighbors to socialize, sitting in the park to talk and listen to the music while watching children play and enjoy the fresh air. Every Friday afternoon – usually at 4 PM, but sometimes a few minutes before or after – the musicians of the Civil Music Band (the Banda de Música Civil, part of Sacatepéquez’s Interior Department) start their concert.
Sheltered on the ground level of the colonial-era Royal Palace of the Captains General (now the Real Palacio Cultural Center), these serious gentlemen are dedicated to playing tunes which – as one of them says – any good chapín should recognize. These concerts serve as rehearsals and training for when the band has to accompany government delegations during parades or official events. For those who enjoy Parque Central in La Antigua, it’s easy to see that these concerts are family events, as much so as the famous ice cream carts that roam around the park. Rain or shine, these dedicated musicians are present every Friday, playing melody after melody until the time comes for a short break, and then at 6 PM, the conclusion of their weekly concert. It’s undeniable that these distinguished gentlemen are part of La Antigua’s cultural and community life and that the band’s concerts are an attractive feature for those visiting the city, whether they’re foreigners on vacation or chapines enjoying a day out in the colonial city. Good music and a beautiful park… soul-soothing relaxation on a Friday afternoon.