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Latino Daily News

Sunday April 22, 2012

Mixtec Indians Give Concert Blending Ancient Melodies with Beatles Tunes

More than 50 young Mixtec Indians gave a concert in the western Mexican city of Guadalajara, in which they fused their ancestral musical tradition with melodies made famous by the legendary British rock group The Beatles.

With instruments typical of the Mixtec culture rooted in the southern state of Oaxaca, such as the tuba and accordion, the members of the Yaandavi Symphonic Orchestra on Friday performed songs like “Yesterday” and “All You Need Is Love” in the Pedro Arrupe Auditorium at Iteso Jesuit University.

The group is made up of Oaxacan Indians who emigrated to Guadalajara, capital of the western state of Jalisco, looking for work. They settled in one of the poorest districts of the city, as Orlando Perez, one of the promoters of the project, told Efe.

He said they chose The Beatles’ tunes because they share the philosophy expressed in the songs of Liverpool’s “Fab Four.”

“The music unites us and we share The Beatles’ philosophy of peace and brotherhood that gave rise to this project,” said Perez, who had the help of Iteso Jesuit University and the Tonica Jazz festival organizers in staging the concert.

Besides the 10 numbers by the British group, with other Jalisco musicians playing backup, the indigenous orchestra played Oaxacan musical compositions like the “Mixtec Neighborhood” overture, which expresses the journey and cultural shock implicit in leaving their native communities to go live in the city.

Perez helped found the Yaandavi School of Music, the Mixtec word meaning “music of the lowly,” with the intention of rescuing traditional indigenous music and offering uprooted Indians an alternative to addictions and crime.

“Almost all come from families of musicians, but the place where they live now is more suitable for going out to work on the street or getting involved with drugs, while the school offers music as a way to work decently,” he said.