August 2007 Convention
Albuquerque, NM

Andean Flute

Engaging, enthusiastic, inspiring. These are all words that come to my mind when I think about the workshop/demonstration Nathaniel Kuster (Chichí Pérez) presented at the National Flute Association’s convention in Albuquerque this August.

Chichí Pérez briefly recounted the history of the role flute-type instruments play(ed) in music in the Andes. This geographic region spans the Andes Mountains of South America from Columbia down to Argentina. Pérez explained the design and fingering of the quena. An end-blown notched flute played vertically, the quena has six finger holes on the front and a thumbhole on the back.

Encouraging all to take their flutes and play, Pérez coaches the audience on playing the work Ojos Azules. The handout provided showed Western notation and traditional Huayno (synthesis of rural traditional and popular urban music). A feeling of understanding seemed to pass through the audience as they played along with Pérez. Each verse brought a different rhythmic element to the piece. As the audience ensemble continued, Pérez joined in playing the Zampona.

Although Chichí Pérez explained to the audience the details of the Andean quena, he seemed more intent on sharing the music of the Andeas. His love for the music was infectious. Many of the audience left feeling they had truly played some Andean music. The handout distributed at the demonstration was informative and interesting, and provided resources to contact for additional information.

—Sharon Winton