The strains of a violin and the notes of a classical concerto played by a youth orchestra drown out the horrors of living in Ciudad Juarez, one of the deadliest cities on the planet. 

It is music that saves lives. 

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These comforting sounds flow from the Orquesta Sinfónica Esperanza Azteca, or Aztec Hope Symphony Orchestra, and are the work of Mexican violinist Jové García.

In 2008, trying to find a balm to the escalating violence, García created an after-school program that today teaches around 500 children how to play an instrument or sing in a choir. 

With donations from local business people and playing with used musical instruments, he began teaching students (about 60 then) how to play the violin, cello, and viola. 

The student’s ages ranged from 7 to 18, the most vulnerable population in a deadly city. 

García wanted to keep the children safe and have music give them hope for a better life

“The gangs, they start doing drugs, drinking, and even getting killed, so I think the most important thing of this program is that we’re saving lives,” he said in a recent interview with NBC News. “Music saves lives.” 

Ciudad Juárez, the largest city in Chihuahua State, is the heart of the state’s violence. In the rankings of the most violent cities in the world by murder rate per 100,000 citizens, it has the ignominy of being number three

The violence began with the drug war in Mexico, declared in 2006 by then-President Felipe Calderón.

In the middle of the violence, and as fear gripped the city, García said the documentary  “Tocar y Luchar” inspired him to do something to help. 

It’s a film about Venezuelan music teacher José Antonio Abreu and the network of choirs and orchestras he built for children in Venezuela. 

Garcia’s after-school program proved so successful that it came to the attention of the Mexican education department 

The program was folded into the Esperanza Azteca Foundation — an organization that federally funds orchestras for vulnerable children. 

The Juarez orchestra received first prize in a national competition — against 83 orchestras from different Mexican states. 

Prestigious musicians such as Joshua Bell, Yo-Yo Ma, and Plácido Domingo have played with the Juarez orchestra. It also performed for Pope Francis when he visited the city in 2016.

But the foundation cut back funding after COVID. Now García relies on the kindness of his father’s jefe, factory owner Daniel Domínguez. 

Domínguez lends space on his factory floor for the children to continue their lessons. García also rents cheap space at a school to teach and store the instruments.  

The maestro has struggled to continue with his project because the important thing here is the children. 

“In all this time, I have witnessed how belonging to the orchestra has changed the lives of the girls and boys,” he said in an interview with Norte Digital. 

As Jamaican reggae musician, Bob Marley sang — one good thing about music is that when it hits you, “you feel no pain.”