Songs of the way­far­ers

Con­duc­tor Miguel Harth-Be­doya lec­tures on “The Sights and Sounds of the Inka Trail”

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS - Khris­taan D. Vil­lela I For The New Mex­i­can

Maybe all you know about South Amer­i­can mu­sic is the Ar­gen­tine tango or the Brazil­ian samba and bossa nova. Or per­haps you know that Si­mon & Gar­funkel’s song “El Con­dor Pasa (If I Could),” from 1970, was based on a tra­di­tional An­dean tune. Miguel Harth-Be­doya will sur­vey some of the high­lights of South Amer­i­can mu­sic in a mul­ti­me­dia lec­ture, “The Sights and Sounds of the Inka Trail,” at the New Mexico History Mu­seum on Thurs­day, Aug. 13.

Harth-Be­doya is the mu­sic di­rec­tor of the Fort Worth Sym­phony and the chief con­duc­tor of the Nor­we­gian Ra­dio Sym­phony. This sum­mer at Santa Fe Opera, he con­ducts the pre­miere of Jen­nifer Hig­don’s opera Cold Moun­tain. He is also the founder and mu­si­cal di­rec­tor of Caminos del Inka, a non­profit ded­i­cated to re­search­ing, pub­lish­ing, per­form­ing, and record­ing the mu­sic of South Amer­ica, from pre-Columbian times to the present day. In a re­cent con­ver­sa­tion with Pasatiempo, he re­counted that as a Peru­vian, he was in­ter­ested in the mu­si­cal her­itage of his coun­try, with its rich mix of in­dige­nous cul­tures, among them the Quechua and Ay­mara, as well as the cul­ture the Span­ish brought when they top­pled the Inka Em­pire in 1532. Harth-Be­doya said that he has en­coun­tered a lack of knowl­edge among the gen­eral public about Latin Amer­i­can and, more specif­i­cally, South Amer­i­can mu­sic. South Amer­ica it­self is an ar­ti­fi­cial con­struct of the mod­ern world, en­meshed in the history of Euro­pean colo­nial­ism. Many are its lan­guages, cul­tures, cuisines, and mu­si­cal tra­di­tions. Harth-Be­doya men­tioned how it’s been sug­gested that just be­cause he is Peru­vian he can con­duct the mu­sic of Ás­tor Pi­az­zolla, the Ar­gen­tine com­poser of tan­gos. Maybe he could or maybe not, but cer­tainly not solely by virtue of his birth south of the equa­tor.

Although Harth-Be­doya worked for many years on the pro­ject be­fore­hand, Caminos del Inka was founded in 2010; it is named af­ter the fa­mous Inka roads, which criss­crossed the An­des, orig­i­nally con­nect­ing the Inka cap­i­tal at Cusco, Peru, with im­pe­rial prov­inces both north and south in what is now Ecuador, Bo­livia, Chile, and Ar­gentina. Although the roads were mostly built in the late 1400s and early 1500s, Inka stone­ma­sons were ex­cel­lent crafts­men, and many of the roads con­tinue in use to the present day. Just as the roads con­nected far-flung peo­ples and cul­tures in pre-Columbian times, so Harth-Be­doya’s or­ga­ni­za­tion aims to con­nect us with the con­ti­nent’s mu­sic in all its di­ver­sity.

Among the eth­no­mu­si­co­log­i­cal projects Caminos del Inka spon­sors are in­ves­ti­ga­tions of pre-Columbian An­dean mu­sic and in­stru­ments. One video on the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s YouTube chan­nel, Ron­cado­ras de Caraz, doc­u­ments na­tive Quechua mu­si­cians in a small vil­lage in north­ern Peru. The nar­ra­tor notes that there re­main just three mu­si­cians in the town who still know how to play the an­cient in­stru­ments, in­clud­ing the ron­cadora flutes as well as rasps and drums. The group also in­cludes a vi­o­lin, which is widely used in tra­di­tional mu­sic in Latin Amer­ica, from Mexico to Peru, and which speaks to the hy­brid na­ture of South Amer­i­can mu­sic.

Caminos del Inka has also formed an ensem­ble, which has per­formed world­wide, and which pro­motes the work of con­tem­po­rary Latin Amer­i­can com­posers such as Jimmy López, Gabriela Frank, En­rique Itur­riaga, and Os­valdo Goli­jov, whose Ai­nadamar was a high­light of the 2005 Santa Fe Opera sea­son. The ensem­ble has just re­leased its sev­enth al­bum, which in­cludes sev­eral works of Colo­nial Latin Amer­i­can mu­sic in mu­nic­i­pal and church ar­chives, such as that held by the Metropoli­tan Cathe­dral in Mexico City. Harth-Be­doya’s wife, Mar­itza Cac­eres, is writ­ing a PhD dis­ser­ta­tion that will in­clude the first pub­li­ca­tion of a group of 17th- and 18th-cen­tury vil­lan­ci­cos, or re­li­gious songs, that were dis­cov­ered at the Sem­i­nario de San An­to­nio Abad in Lima.

If you are cu­ri­ous about whether Paul Si­mon’s lyrics for “El Con­dor Pasa” are ac­tu­ally trans­la­tions of an An­dean folk song, Harth-Be­doya will en­lighten you on this sub­ject and many more in his pre­sen­ta­tion, which fea­tures mu­si­cal se­lec­tions.

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