Born from a dream while in exile in Spain in the 70’s as a consequence of one of the most violent periods in Argentina, the Festival Argentino in DC is Daniel Manzoni’s creation. He had asked famed singer Mercedes Sosa, who was also in exile with him in Spain at that time, what she thought if he created a festival that included tango, folkloric and rock music to celebrate Argentinian culture. Her answer was a resounding “yes.”
So it was, that the idea for an Argentinian festival germinated and came to life 30 years ago. Daniel Manzoni, who puts in an average of 1800 volunteer hours to organize the event every year, thinks of himself as a community ambassador. He stated, “there is nothing like our festival anywhere in the US.” Bringing to DC area some of the top notch artists from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Uruguay and throughout Latin America, Manzoni believes that “culture is one of the most dynamic forces for the positive development of the people. With cultural exchange, we have the possibility of becoming a better society.”
From it modest beginnings featuring mostly local artists and perhaps one or two internationally known performers, the Festival Argentino has now become a stage for some of the most talented musicians around the world. This year, the Festival will feature such artists as Los Romero, Dario Chiesa, Hugo Valverde, Raul Chuly Garcia, Nancy Massobrio (in homage to Mercedes Sosa), Ruben Gimenez and Soledad and Ana Issa and many others. Bolivians will be excited to know that Bolivian artist Salvatore will once again perform at the Festival. Russian dancers Liza and Alexei Semyonov will perform the tango.
Held at the Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre on South Old Glebe Road the event begins at 4 pm with the sale of traditional Argentinian food and crafts, with the performances from 6:00 to 10:30 pm. Tickets are $20 in advance and $30 at the door. For details, please visit: Festival Argentino USA 2016
Manzoni believes that the success of the Festival lies in the fact that the majority of audience members represent a diverse population, not just Argentinians. He also counts on the support of in-kind and financial donors such as Telemundo, Washington Hispanic, El Tiempo Latino, Arlington Arts, TD Bank and many others. He proudly explained that this year the Embassy of Argentina and Univision will be playing an important role in sponsoring the event.
During its early years, the Festival could count on an audience of perhaps 100 people. The event has grown every year and now Manzoni says that he is proud that the Festival has helped launch the career of many new artists.
Manzoni is not reluctant to take on a challenge, whether as an organizer or in his own personal development. He graduated from George Mason University at age 40 and competed with much younger candidates for a job at the Department of Commerce in 1993. He currently works at the Department of Agriculture Marketing Service’s Dairy Program Department. Clearly, whether Manzoni’s work in support of the Dairy industry at the USDA or his work in creating one of the area’s most unique festivals, he has rightfully earned the Presidential Volunteer Service Award.