September 11, 2008

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From south of the equator
Chimu’s bring Andes to the mountains of NH
By Dana Unger dunger@hippopress.com

With a sound born of their home country of Peru and the emerald, cragged majesty of its Andes, the band Chimu’s bring their earthy, smooth-as-velvet traditional Incan sounds to the Granite State for a two-month musical and cultural exchange program this fall.

Naming themselves after a pre-Colombian culture that lived on the Pacific shores of northern Peru, Chimu’s will play and teach their way across the northern New England area from September to October, their visit made possible by the Mountain Spirit Institute, a nonprofit organization in Sunapee.

The institute’s founder and director, Randy Richards, met the band when he led a climbing and cultural program in Peru eight years ago.

“Like most gringos, I was taken by the music in Peru, and took up the zampona [pan flute],” he said. “I saw the band playing in a Cusco restaurant and asked Guillermo [the group’s musical director] about their instruments.” The two developed a friendship and Richards began working to bring the group to the U.S. This will be their first U.S. visit.

“It has been quite a journey, researching and filing for performer’s visas, permits, and getting the venues and schools lined up, but it’s all been worth it,” Richards said.

The band has two CDs, Q’ori Pank’arita and Magical Melodies, featuring Peruvian versions of rock classics like “Hey Jude,” “Imagine,” and “Hotel California,” as well as a music DVD. Over their six years as a group, Chimu’s has cultivated a loyal following in their hometown of Cusco, Peru.

The three members have mastered their traditional instruments but can switch off with each other like seasoned pros during performances. Guillermo Seminario primarily plays the “cane” or bamboo flute, Agusto Taype plays a small, mandolin-style instrument called the charango, and Mario Montalvo plays classical guitar.

The group will play Sunapee’s annual SunFest on Sunday, Sept. 21, along with a host of other music acts including Kathy Lowe, Folk Fusion, Michael Skinner, Carey Lee Rush, Andrew Merzi, Shannon Corey, and Lake Sunapee songwriter Click Horning, who is already a fan of the group.

On their two-month tour through New Hampshire, the group will also conduct musical education workshops in local schools and colleges, introducing students to Peruvian instruments, teaching the history of Peruvian folk music, and providing hands-on instruction in making traditional instruments.

The Mountain Spirit Institute has plans to continue the Chimu’s music exchange by offering a special immersion trip to Cusco, where musicians from the U.S., both professional and amateur, can learn about Peruvian instruments, rhythms and history, and perform with the group in Peru, as well as visit cultural landmarks such as Machu Picchu and sites in the Sacred Valley. The group also plans an intensive music weekend at the end of this October in Sunapee. More information can be found at www.mtnspirit.org/quechua or by calling the Mountain Spirit Institute at 763-2668.


Chimu’s
When: Sunday, Sept. 21, at noon
Where: 2008 Sunapee SunFest, Mount Sunapee State Park in Newbury
Info: www.mtnspirit.org