Music from the peoples of the Andes brought to the Grand Island Public Library | Grand Island Local News

The unique sounds and melodies of the Andean peoples of South America filled the Grand Island Public Library on Monday.

Lincoln musician Oscar Rios Pohirieth hosted a special program titled “Andean Folk Music and South American Cultures”. The program was made possible through Humanities Nebraska.

Pohirieth brought over 20 instruments to show and demonstrate from Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and Chile.

This includes wind instruments, flutes, percussion and clay instruments, and others he was unable to show during the hour-long program.

“Almost all instruments in the instrument family (are) played in the Andes,” he said.

There is a special quality and joy in the music of the indigenous peoples of the Andes.

“The various sounds of the instruments resemble life, nature and the everyday life of the people there,” he said. “They share a message to everyone saying, ‘We are alive and we need to celebrate life.’ There are times when the music is slow and a bit sad, but in the same tune they switch to something more upbeat to remind us, yes, life has a balance.

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He added: “We can’t always be happy, but we can’t always be sad.”

A large group of children watched, delighted and engaged, and even quietly silenced as Pohirieth introduced one instrument after another.






An Andean recorder is one of many Andean musical instruments presented by musician Oscar Rios Pohirieth to children at the Grand Island Public Library on Monday.


Independent/Brandon Summers


A small whistle flute, with water inside, perfectly reproduces the chirping sounds of a small bird, which he explained was a childhood favorite.

“What I would do is just run around the neighborhood pretending I was a bird, people thought I was crazy, but I didn’t care,” he told the kids.

Pohirieth invited children to join him in creating music.

The children, on a flat drum by the Omaha native, recreated the percussive rhythms he created on a large Inca goatskin drum, called a bombo, which was introduced by African slaves brought there by the Spanish. Not only were they creating music, he says, but they were recreating a form of communication.

Engaging young people is always fun, Pohirieth said.

“When I play instruments, I usually close my eyes so I can travel with them, so they can connect with me and the music, so I don’t get distracted by the surroundings,” he said. . “But sometimes I open my eyes and I see a child with bright eyes, absorbing all the sounds that these instruments make, and traveling with me somewhere is a nice feeling, because I know that they are learning, that they see, they’re hearing something completely different.

Grand Island’s audience is unique to Pohirieth. During the opening, he asked how many children were Spanish-speaking, and about a third of the children raised their hands, representing the Grand Island community.







062822_ANDEAN MUSIC 03.jpg

Children join Oscar Rios Pohirieth in creating music using a drum from the indigenous Omaha people and an Inca drum, brought to South America by black slaves brought there by the Spanish. The children recreated his drum beats and together they created music during a special program at the Grand Island Public Library on Monday.


Independent/Brandon Summers


“I was hoping that we would bring our immigrant and refugee students and families to this type of event because they need to be integrated,” he said. “I was happy to see them, because what I tell them is, ‘I look like you, I play these instruments, you shouldn’t be ashamed of your cultural outlook.'”

Laura Fentress of GIPL Youth and Family Services said it was an honor to welcome Pohirieth to the library.

“We had Oscar Rios Pohirieth at the library in previous years, so we were thrilled to be able to welcome him back,” Fentress said. “The music was amazing. It’s amazing how much you can conjure up from the sound of a single flute.

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