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Patricia Zárate de Pérez

Born and raised in Chile, Patricia has lived and worked in Panama for over 25 years. She serves as executive director of the Panama Jazz Festival and the Music Therapy Center of Panama and is married to Panamanian pianist Danilo Perez. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Music Therapy from Berklee College of Music, a Master's in Jazz Studies from New York University, and she is completing her Ph.D. in Social Development and Global Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She has worked as a saxophonist, music therapist, and educator in 4 continents for over 25 years. She currently teaches Global Jazz and Social Activism at the Berklee Global Jazz Institute and is part of the faculty of the Music Therapy Department at Berklee College of Music in Boston. For more info, visit

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Prelude of Panamanian Suite

Music possesses an extraordinary power to organize communities; communicate cultural, social, and political needs; and integrate peoples with their beliefs. Music has bolstered virtually every powerful social movement, supplying the soundtrack for social change: from the Civil Rights Movement in the United States to nueva canción in Latin America, to #MeToo protests around the world. As it galvanizes groups, music also heals our individual bodies. Music therapy has found applications in the treatment of a staggering range of afflictions. Children with severe autism spectrum disorders access the capacity to communicate and learn independent skills; burn victims alleviate their pain by listening to music; Alzheimer’s patients recognize their loved ones with the help of a familiar song. Parkinson’s disease patients reacquire gait control by walking in time with a beat, while individuals suffering from certain types of brain injury regain the ability to speak by singing. Beyond its clinical applications, virtually everyone turns to music in ordinary life in one way or another, as a tool for influencing mental and physical states (music for dancing, music for focus, music to help you relax) or for helping us understand and integrate feelings and experiences (music for breakups, for grieving, for prayer, for safe expression of overwhelming love, lust, or rage). In the quest to navigate and understand our own inner worlds, to heal and become whole psychologically, physically, and spiritually, music may be the most important tool we possess.


Do you know other Panamanians in jazz? Do you have music written for Panama from before 1950? Do you want to share your Panamanian jazz story? Email me!

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