Andean Music Showcased in Polytechnic School’s Global Initiatives Event

Last Wednesday, the Global Initiatives Program hosted Jonathan Ritter, an ethnomusicologist at UC Riverside. In his introduction, Ritter spoke about his work, focusing on musical expressions and how they influence the work of cultural memory and political activism. He delved briefly into the history of Peru through European colonization and relationship with surrounding countries. He then shared various instruments, one in particular being the pan flute, and exhibited their beauty exquisitely. The pan flute is an instrument native to Peruvian indigenous culture that has been used for hundreds of years. The pan flute is especially unique because it is broken up into two different parts per the three octaves.

The evening’s student host Jessica L. ’17 described, “One of the best moments of the night was learning how to play the pan flute. Each audience member tried his or her hand at learning the piece. However, the best part was when we made a circle and started to march to our own rhythm while playing the notes together. Music is special because you can share it with people and this tradition exhibited by indigenous Peruvians have embodied this aspect since the beginning of time.”

After demonstrating the magic of the plan flute, Ritter went on to speak about the political climate in Peru and how its history surrounding corruption in elections and people in power have not decimated the culture that still thrives in the mountains of Cusco and city of Lima. He also spoke to his personal experience traveling to villages and playing with the indigenous people. Students adventuring to Peru this summer were very fortunate to have the opportunity to learn more about Peruvian culture before their trip.

Polytechnic School, 1030 E. California Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 396-6300 or visit



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