Students perform Afro-Peruvian music


Students in assistant professor Javier León’s World Culture and Music course sing Afro-Peruvian music during their end of semester concert Wednesday night at the Folklore and Musicology Auditorium. Ethan Bennett

Students in assistant professor Javier León’s World Culture and Music course performed with viola, cajon, guitar and trumpet instruments in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology Performance and Lecture Hall on Wednesday night.

Graduate student Juan Rojas, one of the performers in the concert, said studying Afro-Peruvian music helps in his research in bullerengue, an Afro-Colombian style of music. Rojas, a Columbian, said he learned a lot about the context and the history of the music in this course.

“The rhythms are very interesting, very complex,” Rojas said. “Facing new rhythms is always fun. Professor León is an excellent teacher.”

The students performed a total of seven songs, mostly about daily life, as well as protest songs such as “El Esposito.” The Peruvian government banned the song from being played on the radio due to it’s controversial topic of prostitution at a time before birth control, León said.

“The song is a critique of society at the time, and a critique of prostitution,” León said.
León said the newer songs focused on Afro-Peruvian pride instead of regular everyday life and culture.

“Afro-Peruvian music went through a renaissance in the 1950s, and younger people were activists.” León said.

The course has been taught once every three semesters since 2008, he said. León has been at IU since 2007.

Even though freshman Meagan O’Brien took the class to fulfill an Arts and Humanity credit, she said she is glad she took the course.

“I like seeing the different types of music in the world,” O’Brien said, “It’s so different than what we hear in America.”

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