Chirihue: Roots-Inspired Latin American Fusion


February 6, 2016 - 7:30pm

With members from Chile, Panama, Venezuela and the U.S., Chirihue (pronounced “Chee-dee-way”) offer a one-of-a-kind performance of songs that connect to regional styles from Central and South America. The ensemble will perform jazz, classical and folk compositions with rhythms that stretch from the Caribbean to the southern Andes. In a rare combination of craft and emotion, Chirihue's music is a vital expression of the human experience in Latin America, with poignant connections to specific regional traditions. On piano, voice, vibraphone, bass, guitar and percussion, they will share songs and original works inspired in roots music of Chile, Panama, Venezuela and beyond.

Chirihue's core members—Orión Morales, Rodrigo Invernizzi and Ella Ponce include interdisciplinary artists who link performance to cultural studies and social activism. Pianist Orión Morales has been an organizer of the Panama Jazz Festival and the ChilEUropa Jazz Fest. He runs a non-profit in Chile (Musicambio) to provide scholarships to young musicians in need. The concert will feature his work, “Ciudad de las Grúas” (City of Cranes), which depicts the accelerated construction of high rise apartment buildings to keep pace with migration to Chile's capital city. Guitarist Rodrigo Invernizzi has worked at the Archives of Popular Traditions at the Chilean National Library, and as accompanist to legends of folk music, including Hugo Moraga.  His piece, “Angelito Florecío” (Blossoming Angel) captures the spirit of a rural child’s wake, in which the community mourns the child's passing, while also celebrating her soul's transformation in to an angel.  Ella Ponce plays with the National Symphony Orchestra of Panama, and has based her recent composition, "Arimae," on the Tonoa drum of the Embera and Wounan indigenous groups of eastern Panama. She received the drum from the tribal council after a trip to Darién province to teach. Chirihue's concert will also feature music of prominent Latin American songwriters whose work, like that of Orión, Rodrigo and Ella, reflects the social and cultural transformations of their time. On tour in the U.S., these musicians will reunite with singer/songwriter/ethnomusicologist Emily Pinkerton, who has performed Chilean music for almost two decades, and bassist José Puentes of Venezuela, who tours with virtuoso folk violinist, Eddy Marcano.

This U.S. tour is made possible in part through support from the University of Pittsburgh and through a collaboration between Karen S. Goldman, Assistant Director of the Center for Latin American Studies, and Emily Pinkerton, Ethnomusicology Instructor in the Department of Music, who organized an artist residency for Chirihue in 2013. According to Goldman, "Chirihue's 2013 concert was the most entertaining and exciting musical event I have had the good fortune of experiencing in recent years. The evening’s program included a wide variety of traditional, classical and popular Latin American styles and a fantastic synergy created by a diverse and talented group of musicians.”