MOUNT VERNON— Trumpeter Gabriel Alegria will be presenting a concert by
the Lima Interescolar Big Band at the Ariel-Foundation Park Schnormeier
Event Center on May 4 at 7 p.m.
Alegria graduated from Mount Vernon High School in 1988 and from
Kenyon College in 1993 with a degree in music. He has a Ph.D. from the
University of Southern California.
The band is a youth ensemble from Lima, Peru, that will play jazz classics and Afro-Peruvian jazz music.
The youth in Interescolar are between 13 and 19 years old and play
traditional jazz instruments and Peruvian percussion pieces such as the
cajon (a wooden box drum), the cajita (a trapezoidal small drum) and
quijada (an animal jaw bone). They will perform "Solar" by Miles Davis
and "Cottontail" by Duke Ellington as well as Peruvian pieces such as
"Toromata," a traditional Afro-Peruvian folk song.
Professor of Music Ted Buehrer said, "Throughout its history, jazz
has always been about the fusion of disparate musical elements. I've
known Gabriel since our days as students at Kenyon, so I know he is
deeply rooted in American jazz. But his most important contribution to
the music has been the way in which he has fused the indigenous rhythms
and instruments of coastal Peru with the melodies and harmonies of jazz.
No one else in the world was doing this when he started, and he remains
at the forefront today."
Alegria is considered a pioneer of Afro-Peruvian jazz and tours the
world with his own ensemble, the Afro-Peruvian Sextet. Since forming in
2005, the sextet has produced five albums and a DVD. Once per year it
conducts "Tour Peru," when fans can play with the musicians.
Alegria and his professional group will return to Kenyon in October
for a four-day residency and a joint concert with the Kenyon Jazz
Ensemble at Rosse Hall on October 13.
Alegria’s sextet also came to campus in 2008 and 2012 for residencies and concerts.
Alegria told an interviewer in 2008: "Peruvians say we sound very
Peruvian, and Americans feel that our music is jazz. In many ways the
art lies in the fact that we fooled them all! Actually, it is a language
that lies somewhere in the delicate space between the two."
He started playing trumpet at age 12 because his father insisted
everyone in the family play a musical instrument (though the family was
known for a different form of art: his grandfather was one of Peru’s
most famous novelists and his father one of its most acclaimed
playwrights). Alegria was the first in his immediate family to make
music a professional career.
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