Oscar Rios Pohirieth learned about the beauty of Andean instruments when he heard an exiled Chilean ensemble play on the radio when he was a little boy growing up in the 1970s in Veracruz, Mexico.
Rios Pohirieth, now a cultural specialist for the Lincoln, Neb., public school system, said the instruments native to the Incan peoples are not from Mexico, but he nonetheless grew to love the sound of the quena and the bombo.
"That is what I like about this music," he told a Spanish class during a presentation on Wednesday at Minot State University. "It pulls me out of my misery ... it pulls you back to who you really are."
Minot State University Spanish students Habeeb Rafiu, Cody Duchscherer and Eric Herbel accompany visiting musician Oscar Rios Pohirieth of Lincoln, Neb., during a song on Wednesday. Rios Pohirieth gave a presentation on native Andean instruments as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Rios Pohirieth gave a presentation on different musical instruments at Minot State University as part of Hispanic Heritage Month. He also gave a public presentation on Wednesday evening.
Some of the instruments he demonstrated included the zamponas or Andean panpipes; the quena, a recorder-like flute; and the bombo, a drum with Andean influence. The bombo drum was made with llama hide, though Rios Pohirieth said goat hide is also used. The quena and zamponas are handmade, often made from aquatic canes native from the region. Children play smaller versions of the instrument in preparation for learning how to play those larger in size.
The Incan instruments are native to Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and parts of Chile and Argentina. Rios Pohirieth said some of the music might sound similar to Native American music in the United States because the Incans are part of the wider pan-Native American culture native to the Americas.
Rios Pohirieth recruited students from the class to accompany him as he performed music during the class and also gave them a chance to try to figure out how to play some of the wind instruments.
Students Habeeb Rafiu, Cody Duchscherer and Eric Herbel seemed to feel a little silly, but Rios Pohirieth assured them they should not.
The song they accompanied him on was a celebration, he said.
"There are times when you just have to liberate yourself," he said.
The presentation was sponsored by the university's Spanish Club.