Meet the Artist: Corina Behrens

Have you had a look at SLAFF’s new video about the 2018 Community Support Program? More specifically, have you had a listen? The piece is called Maracaibera; it is an example of gaita, a style of folk music from El Zulia, Venezuela. The violinist featured in the piece is talented young musician Corina Behrens.

Watch below!

Ana Lopez, SLAFF’s Community Support Program Coordinator, felt that Corina was the perfect fit for CSP’s trailer. “The Community Support Program has always focused on projects that empower communities and particularly young people with the tools they need to make positive contributions. Through music, Corina is exploring how she can make a difference, and it felt important to support her journey.”

Corina was born in Venezuela and moved to Australia when she was 2 years old. Although she has lived in Sydney for most of her life, Corina has maintained a close connection to Venezuelan culture. “Both my parents were born and raised in Venezuela, which allowed me to grow up in a Venezuelan household. We ate Venezuelan and other Latin foods and listened to Latin music. My parents would play their traditional music, like salsa and merengue, occasionally at a family dinner or a gathering. Most of my family friends are Venezuelan and I only speak Spanish at home.”

From a young age, Corina was passionate about music. “As a kid, I was always told that I had some sort of connection to music. I was always dancing when the music was on and trying out different instruments at such a young age. As I grew up, I developed my own connection to music.” At age 7, Corina started to play the violin.

A few years ago, Corina started to play Latin music with her father: she would play the violin and he would play the cuatro, a Venezuelan guitar. Her interest in Latin music blossomed a couple of years ago when she visited her cousins in Miami, where she was exposed to various genres of Venezuelan music, like the Venezuelan waltz, pasaje, joropo and gaita. “Some of the rhythms were extremely unfamiliar to me but this experience helped me to connect with Venezuela, with my roots, with its music.”

Corina’s use of music to connect to her Venezuelan roots resonated with Ana Lopez. “This piece of music is Corina’s vision or her lens of what Venezuela sounds to her. Particularly with what Venezuela is going through now, I would imagine it must be very hard to understand that region, having grown up here. Personally, those stories are very relatable to me, having myself grown up in Australia but born in Latin America. I always find it fascinating how children of migrants explore their cultural identity.”

Last year, Corina decided to partake in the 2018 Antipodeans Program in Borneo. This program takes high school students to developing countries to facilitate community projects. Corina is required to fund her trip independently, without the help of her parents, and hopes to do so using her musical talent. So, in 2017, Corina recorded an album called Mis Raices Venezolanas (My Venezuelan Roots). The compilation of classic Venezuelan songs was arranged and directed by Latin Grammy winner Gustavo Caruci. The album is an international collaboration: Corina’s violin parts were recorded in Melbourne, the cuatro, guitar and bass guitar parts were recorded in Venezuela, the maracas were recorded in Geneva, and the album was produced in Florida.

To help Corina participate in the Antipodeans Program, donate here. Donations over $50 will receive a copy of Mis Raices Venezolanas.

To support SLAFF and the 2018 Community Support Program, check out the full program of films. Money raised from ticket sales will this year go to BiblioWorks in Bolivia, and CreArte in Chile. To find out more about CSP click here.