Ecuador and Colombia have tremendous geographical variety with thick jungles, high-altitude mountainous regions, and long coastlines with beaches. The music emanating from these two neighboring countries reflects this diversity.

Listen — and groove — to those regional differences during South American Mashup: Inkhay and Río Mira at Flushing Town Hall this weekend.

A dance lesson will (literally and figuratively) kick off the fun on Friday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m. Then, the program will proceed as per the venue’s time-honored “Mashup” style. Each band plays a set. Then, they unite on the stage and jam together.

Inkhay celebrates the Andes Mountains, where the Incan Empire once flourished and the air is thin. Ancient woodwinds, such as the quena (a flute) and the zampoña (a panpipe), and percussion instruments like the bombo (a drum) feature prominently in their sound. Accompanying vocals are often high-pitched and nasal, while the dances have roots in conjuring up romance, spirituality and warfare.

Members of Inkhay, whose name comes from a Quechua word that translates as “to tend a fire,” play more than 25 instruments, all of which have roots in pre-Hispanic Andean civilization. They also include European elements, such as the charango, a dead ringer for a guitar that was originally crafted from armadillo shells.

The other group, Río Mira, hails from the Pacific Coast of Ecuador and Colombia, where descendants of African slaves have been living for centuries. (The group’s name comes from a river between the two countries.) The genre’s base is the marimba, a xylophone-like instrument consisting of pipes and wooden bars that are struck with mallets or sticks. Lyrics often celebrate liberation and joy, while the percussion is infectious for anybody who likes to dance.

Tickets cost $16, but students with proper identification pay $10 each. Teenagers can attend for free as part of the ongoing effort to expose members of this age group to the arts.

An Encore?

The beat goes on with an Andean Music Workshop on Saturday, Oct. 20, at 11:30 a.m.

Master teaching artist Pepe Santana, an Inkhay member, will share the history, geography, and traditions of Andean culture during this event. The Ecuador native will also demonstrate how to make and play a panpipe, while offering live demonstrations of percussion, wind, and string instruments. (Santana plays dozens of flutes, panpipes and whistles as well as such string instruments as charangos, mandolins, bandurrias, tiples and many guitars.) For extra enrichment, attendees can check out Santana’s personal collection, which will be on display in Flushing Town Hall’s gallery.

The workshop costs $25, but again, teenagers can attend for free. (They will pay a supply cost for the panpipes, though.)

Flushing Town Hall is located at 137-35 Northern Blvd.

Editor’s note: Río Mira appears via funding from Southern Exposure: Performing Arts of Latin America, a program of the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

Images: Flushing Town Hall, Inkhay and Río Mira


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