Chosto Ulloa

Appears in: Musicians

El guitarrón chileno (2000)Don Chosto Ulloa (Tránsito Ulloa Lobos)

The great oral poet, "cantor a lo poeta", composer and singer known as Don Chosto Ulloa, a master of the guitarrón chileno, died at his home in Pirque on October 7, 2010. He was seventy-four years old, and devoted sixty years of his life to the guitarrón, a unique instrument developed in the Pirque valley of central Chile. He was a farmer and "cantor a lo divino", a singer to the divine, a mystical poetic tradition with roots in Spanish medieval culture. This tradition was widely practiced in the rural areas of Chile, as part of the rituals of passage when songs were performed in all night vigils; especially on the ocassion of the death of children referred to as "angelitos". The tradition of the "canto a lo divino" is now dying out, as infants don't die as often as they did before, and the rural areas of Chile become modernized.

But Don Chosto Ulloa, became a teacher to a new generation of guitarroneros who are taking the guitarrón into new spheres. Before, the guitarrón was performed in private ritual settings and fiestas. Today it is played to large audiences in public settings such as cultural events.

Don Chosto leaves a unique legacy of a little known aspect of rural culture, a music of extraordinary complexity and achievement. Claudio Mercado Muñoz, one of his disciples, has made films and recordings commemorating the extraordinary art and achievements of Don Chosto.

Tránsito Osvaldo Ulloa Lobos, known as Don Chosto, was a farmer from El Principal de Pirque. He was born on April 14, 1936, his parents were Mercedes Rosa Lobos and Manuel Ulloa Lobos Cortés, from whom he inherited his passion for singing to the divine and the guitarrón. He began playing at fourteen and continued until his death. He married Ana Ahumada and fathered ten children.

Don Chosto never went to school, he learned everything he knew by doing and watching the masters. He worked the fields from age ten. Soon after and motivated by the guitarrón he began playing at ritual fiestas his father organized. Soon he became a teacher of young Pircano singers.