Andean festival music comes to Duke Theatre
Talk about high times, the Andes Mountains pay a visit this week to the Sierra Nevada.
The Tahoe Arts Project has invited an Andean music group, Chaskinakuy, to perform all week at schools, concluding the stay with a public performance at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 30, in the Lake Tahoe Community College Duke Theatre.
Some of the songs are contemporary but the music is ancient. The Andes is the world’s longest continental mountain range and the music is from Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador.
“It’s a fast-moving overview of the music and culture and history of the Andean region,” said Francy Vidal, who with Edmond Badoux, created the Chaskinakuy duo 26 years ago. “Within our music we weave a historical narrative. Kids get an idea of the history of Latin America through the music and instruments. We teach them rhythmic clapping and at one point a dance step. The whole audience will be participating in one way or another.”
The panflute and other wind instruments are made from bamboo and quills. Badoux will bring a 10-foot clarin, a trombone-like horn which can be as long as 16 feet.
Andes mountain-dwellers come down near the Amazon to harvest bamboo for instruments crafted for annual festivals. The instruments Chaskinakuy members play last much longer.
Badoux first heard Andean music when he attended school in Switzerland.
“Some tunes popularized by French singers I heard when I was a student,” he said. “I seriously started playing in Montreal, learning the traditional instruments and forming a group with friends from Argentina and Chile. You discover older, but new to you, instruments from different regions and started to learn more about the rhythms and the style of each region. So it has been a lifelong work.”
Vidal became intrigued with the music in the 1970s and she befriended Andean players who lived in the Bay Area, including Vidal.
Stringed instruments were added to Andean music when the Spanish arrived, and Chaskinakuy 16 years ago added Daniel Zamalloa, who plays fiddle, mandolin and guitar.
The melodies the trio play are relatively modern, but the Andean festival music is ancient, Badoux said.
“It’s not so much the melody but the style and the instrumentation and the context,” he said.
Vidal estimated Chaskinakuy had performed about 1,000 times.
The college performance will be two 45-minute sets with an intermission.