Traditional Music of Peru 5: Celebrating Divinity in the High Andes (Music of the Ancash Region)
Smithsonian Folkways (www.si.edu/folkways)

cd coverIn this timeless region unique religious festivals help the people find their place in the cosmos. During the conquest of this area by the Spanish, the combination of the foreign Catholic rites, religious heroes, and symbolism with that of the local population made for the development of a new culture. This album combines music from the most important festivals of this region, the Catholic festivals celebrated by the town residents and mestizos, and the Octave celebrated eight days later mostly by the indigenous people.

The entire history of the people is acted out in song and dance. Included are Ancient Inca worship rites, the masked dancing of the coming of the Conquistador, the rites of the Virgin Mary, the defiant resistance of the mestizos to the land owners, and even some influences from western film culture. The indigenous instrumentation is unexpectedly joined by saxophone and accordion, incorporated from modern life into the music.

The tracks were recorded in 1993 in Callejón de Huaylas the Peruvian Department of Ancash. They are short and provide a wide variety of music. Ample descriptions of each song in English and Spanish, as well as photos of the dancers, are included in the liner notes.

The recordings seemed somewhat disembodied from the dances they accompany. A lot of imagination is required to recombine the scene in its original state. But the music and sounds of the dancers alone can evoke the life and times of these people, the children laughing, the comments of the audience and the best efforts of the band are all captured. In a land of many combining cultures, this recording presents life today and as it was many years ago. - Brian Grosjean

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