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Andes Manta: Rhythms of the Andes

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Andes. Photo courtesy of andesmanta.com by Mary Arnold

Emily Geno

 

On Tuesday, September 9, a musical group called Andes Manta performed in Olin Theater. The group is made up of four brothers: Fernando, Luis, Bolivar, and Jorge Lopez. The brothers have traveled and performed for more than twenty years and have played at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, Yale University, and the Metropolitan Museum of the Arts, as well as many Latin American festivals across North and South America. Originally from Quito, Ecuador, they discovered their love of music as children when they attended local festivals.

Ecuadorian music is mostly traditional, but it also has European influence.  It tells stories through the use of wind and percussion instruments. The brothers, however, are proficient in guitar and violin.

Their performances express the richness of their culture. Andes Manta’s songs are reminiscent of another time: a time separated from technology and the busyness of everyday life, and each piece brings a little bit of Andes culture to life. Through their music, they channel nature with the 35 traditional instruments they play— from rain sticks, to drums, to flutes, the music evokes the clear image of birds, wind, crickets, and more. One of their favorite pieces, called “Ancestros,” transports the listener to a time before man. The song creates peace in the listener through its use of nature sounds. Gradually, the Lopez brothers incorporate guitar and flute to end the song.

It is clear how much the Lopez brothers love their music. Their smiles and laughter throughout the performance and their random bursts of dancing show the audience that they are passionate about their celebrating their culture and sharing it with others. They engaged the audience by clapping together and even brought some audience members onstage to help them play one of their songs.  Between pieces, the brothers described Ecuadorian traditions and instruments, and demonstrated the use of each one. The audience was captivated. They stared, mesmerized by the music, bobbed their heads, and applauded loudly after each piece. When the performance was done, they seemed almost reluctant to leave. If Andes Manta returns to Roanoke any time soon, it should definitely be on everyone’s “must see” list.