We were very fortunate to visit The Apulaya Art & Music Center in Calca, where we enjoyed workshops with Emerita and Valerio who were inspirational in their passion for Andean art and music.
Emerita is a talented artist and sculptor originally from Switzerland who specialises in pre-Incan and pre-Colombian art. Our session with her involved first drawing a bean that we selected from a dish. After completing our own drawing, Emerita introduced us to art pieces that centred on beans and lead us to the conclusion that we were only drawing the bean as it is in its current state and not seeing its potential. We were then encouraged to expand our drawings to include the “potential” of the bean. “Not only did the pre-Colombian artists “thematize” the physical appearance of a human, vegetable or divine being, but they also manifested it in its totality, with its full potential in which creation, fertility and development are fundamental” (Emerita). This was a unique insight into the meaning and interpretation of cosmo-vision in the Andean art and work Emerita shared with us.
Valerio is a classically trained flautist from Cusco who also studied jazz flute in Switzerland. Valerio gave us an excellent workshop on two instruments that are played during different seasons. The tarkha is a wooden aerophone with 6 holes and is played in the humid (or rainy) season. It has a very raspy distinctive sound and we played two different sized tarkhas which had rather interesting tunings!
The other flute we learnt was the Siku or traditional pan flute, which is composed of two rows of tubes: Arka (Male) and Ira (Female). “To produce the melody, these two rows must interact by means of two players (Each one plays one row). This action is called the “braid” or “braiding”, and serves as a melodic development pillar. The music produced with these flutes is called Sikureada, and its practice comes from the high plains´ region”. We also learnt two Quechan songs.
Below are some pictures and short videos of our two workshops.The most amazing outcome of this wonderful workshop was achieved on the final night of the service project in Quishuarani 2 weeks later. Emerita & Valerio drove up to join us, bringing a car load of surprises – traditional dress for us to wear for our performance to the villagers. We spent an hour reviewing and practicing the pieces then later in the evening we had much fun putting on the magnificent traditional garments.
We then had a quick rehearsal in the dining room (that was of varying musical success!), before heading outside to perform around the campfire for the entertainment of the villagers who gathered around.
I am pretty sure we all enjoyed it more than the folk from Quishuarani!