Inca Son Takes Andover to the Andes Mountains

Inca Son, a music and dance ensemble acclaimed for its vibrant performances of Andean folk music visited Phillips Academy to perform in the Chapel this past Sunday afternoon. Faculty, students and families clapped along as four men on stage, dressed in traditional Andean garb, captivated the audience with their lively tunes. “We try to bring as many different musical cultures [to Phillips Academy] as possible. It’s wonderful to try to bring people who play music from a very different part of the world. [Inca Son is] the embodiment of that very special Andean sound, and it sounds great in the Chapel!” said Christopher Walter, Instructor of Music at Phillips Academy and coordinator of the event. The group consisted of Omar Clavijo, Santo Alva, Alfredo Velzaquez and Ivan Tito, all of whom wore purple embroidered ponchos and multicolored hats called churus. “I really liked their outfits because they represented the traditional culture of the Andes,” said Caroline Sambuco’14. The outfits and traditional Andean instruments set the tone for the festivities. Some of the traditional Andean instruments included a pan flute (siku), a flute (quena), a Spanish guitar, and a guitar shaped like an armadillo (charango), which the performers utilized to create an upbeat and exciting performance. Inca Son opened the show with the Andean national anthem, “Condor Pasa.” Clavijo, the leader of the ensemble described the song to be similar to the Andean Flag. “Most American people know of the song ‘Condor Pasa,’” said Clavijo. The song transported the audience to the Andes Mountains as it began with a calm melody, which became progressively faster-paced. “The first song sounded mystical and made me feel like I was in the mountains and the wind was blowing in my hair,” said Jess Gammon’14 Half way through the song, Clavijo invited the audience to clap along. The Chapel radiated the spirit of the Andes. “I liked that the concert was interactive and that they encouraged the audience to clap along. It made it easier to relate to,” Deena Butt’12. Throughout the performance, Clavijo addressed the crowd and taught Andean culture. “I liked how [the performers] stopped every so often to explain the culture behind the songs such as the costumes, instruments and where the songs are from, which broke up the concert and put the music into a context,” said Anjali Krishnamachar’13. The audience could tell Clavijo and the rest of the ensemble clearly enjoyed performing through the smiles they provided throughout the show. “[Events], like today for example, are my favorite places to perform because people are listening, and they want to learn about you, they want to learn about your culture, your experience, and most importantly, they are so quiet and just listen to what you are playing. That makes me feel really good,” said Clavijo. The third song played by Inca Son was “Lejanias.” It began with a charango solo, then later incorporated other instruments to create an eclectic sound that conveyed longing. “The purpose of that song is [to talk about] when we leave our country and we go to a different part of the world. The song starts happy because there is excitement when you don’t know where you are going and then in the middle, the song has a little romance, because when you [arrive at a new place and] learn so many new traditions and cultures and meet so many people, you start to miss your country and your friends, your people,” said Clavijo. During the fifth song of the concert, Inca Son performed an original composition titled “When Heaven Is Crying,” which was written in memory of 9/11. The song opened with a siku solo which specifically created sounds of mourning. “My favorite song was the one about 9/11 because I liked the deep way [Inca Son] played it. It made me feel sad and captured the emotion felt by most Americans after 9/11,” said Harry Cohen’14. The concert ended with a festive finale titled, “Sariri,” during which, the audience clapped along, and the performers swayed to the beat. “It is the song we always play at the end [of our performances]. It says ‘bye-bye’ and is nice because the people participate,” said Clavijo. At the end of the concert, audience members were able to purchase Inca Son CD’s in the lobby of the Chapel, which provided an opportunity for the audience to take home the “Inca Son experience” and enjoy Andean music at their leisure.