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April 17, 2017, 07:41:44 AM

Gabriel Alegria to Perform in Mount Vernon May 4

April 30, 2016 - 11:12 AM

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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