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Lucho Quequezana

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Well, thank you very much. I am Lucho Quequezana. And I'm standing right here. Out of pure chance. By pure chance, or because of fate: whatever you want to call it. And you are sitting here in this talk, for exactly the same reason. Because even though you all have received a very nice invitation, to come to TEDx. Something has had to happen, in your lives, before. There has had to be a turning point for you to end up engaged in what you are now devoted and for you to receive this invitation. And precisely about these break points is what I want to talk about. Because my breaking point begins at age 11. I'm a musician, I'm a composer, I work on music. Music is my life, music is my passion. I die for music, I kill for music. Getting all romantic. But, until age 11, I played absolutely no instrument. I thought that I was unfit for music. I didn't listen to the radio, didn't knock the door, not even sang happy birthday: I was a disaster. So what happened? That at age 11, my older brother became sick with asthma. And the doctor told my mom that we needed to leave Lima, at all cost. Because if not, my brother was going to get worse. So my mom grabs drawers, trunks, suitcases ... and has no better idea than to start putting everything and she gets me, my brother and my sister inside and takes us to live in Huancayo. Year '86, Huancayo. You can imagine those times, there. And, so, here is where my story begins and here is the first turning point in my life. So in order to tell this story, let's start at the beginning of why I stand here explaining to you this story and I want to introduce the characters who will participate in this story. I already introduced myself but I want to introduce you to one of the main characters that are the cause of me standing here. And with a lot of affection, much love and much feeling I present you my mom. So my mom grabs and pulls me out of my school, out of my friends, takes me out of my neighborhood and, obviously, I did not want to leave Lima. I didn't want to go to Huancayo. I knew nothing about Huancayo. So I was being pulled out from my world, from my comfort zone. But when I arrived to Huancayo, what happend was that at school all the children at recess, instead of going out to play football, like all my friends back at school did, all children played this instrument called 'zampoña'. That I had seen many times but had never played. So, of course, I stayed inside my class, like a mushroom because I was very shy, right? I had just arrived. Just climbed to the highlands. (Laughs) So, of course, I did not go out to recess. Then all the boys played (zampoña) and, to me, it seemed amazing. Until a friend tells me "Hey Lucho, why don't you come?" And I say "No, no, forget it. I am a disaster for music. I really don't play a thing. " In short, and the in "criollo slang", to summarize in a way, I considered myself an animal in music. But then they say "No, but come, why don't you come?". Well, we were at recess, we go with the boys, "Well they are playing, let's play." And then is when this kid gives me this instrument and he says "it's very easy, just play here here here." Then I said, "but I can't" and he said "try". So then, what I do is: (Plays) So, imagine an 11 year old boy that can make a melody from his lips. I became crazy. Suddenly, the world opened. It was amazing. And I started playing with all these kids at recess. Every recess. Every recess. After school. And you know that Huancayo is a city of big folklore, its folklore is very strong. So, of course, obviously, the weekend party Chupaca, the Sicaya party, parties everywhere. So it was an amazing invasion of folklores. For a child who had left Lima and that the only thing that he thought of was the Atari, the neighborhood friends, the "ají de gallina" and "leche asada". Then, suddenly, he is immersed in this whole world and I, really, start to live a world of fantasy at that time. Together with my brother, with whom we had become a kind of adopted Huancayian. And together with my brother, we started to fall in love with music. Until it suddenly happens that my mother says: "We have to return to Lima." I remember saying "No, No way! That's impossible!" "We can not return to Lima. This is what I like". At that time for me it really was like my "Disney World". It was a time with all my friends playing. Zampoñas. But she said "no, we must return to Lima." So mother, again, packed up all inside. Pum. To Lima. When I get to my school in Lima. My all time school. My all time friends. I felt a complete stranger. Because, of course, recess arrived and everyone went out to play soccer. And I stayed alone in the classroom playing my zampoña. And I said "this can not be." So what happened? I said "no, I can't lose this, this thing that has invaded me." And so I start to replicate what they did with me in Huancayo, my friends of Huancayo. But with my friends in Lima. So to my chair neighbor, I say: "Look, try this: it's amazing". And to my neighbor in the back. And so I, along with my brother, too, began to spread in my school friends. And so we made our first folk group in college, here in Lima. That guitar is my brother. And that wreck who's playing the charango is me. When I was in school. And so we began to basically fall in love with Peruvian music. Until school ended. And when I finish school, obviously, I go to my parents and tell them, very inocent, all excited I say "Dad, Mom, I want to be a musician." And here comes the emphatic and resounding "no." "Impossible!" "Musician? Never: you'll starve to death". And absolutely everything you already know. So obviously, I said "Well, 15 years, what do I do?" Because at 15 I will not start a war with my parents. So I began to study another career. But when I turned 18 I go to my parents and tell them: "You know what, I can not do this anymore, I do not feel good in this career, I think this is not for me. I think I'm not good at business management". With all due respect to managers who are here. And my parents told me the classic phrase: "Do what you want but finish college". Then I said "well, I will finish college". I studied communications and when I finish college- I continued in college, and continued with my group of friends playing. We then played, the group started to grow. I started writing music at 12 or 13 years without realizing it. It is true, without even realizing it. Suddenly I began to visualize songs appearing in my mind. Until this group of friends finally breaks. Because everyone starts taking their own course of life. Some their careers, etc.. I rest completely alone. With my songs, with all this desire to share music. Because for me music was "playing with my friends." Then comes a point where, well, I became very sad. And the time to take a decision arrives. I had always played with a group of people. I had always played with friends. But then I said "well, if I want to devote to music, I have to start a solo career, to be a composer". Whatever you want to call it. And that's where I start my career. Say, basically, in everything that was Peruvian music. I made a disc- This is very funny: because as I had no friends to play with, I recorded the album alone... What happens is that I started playing several instruments... and suddenly I was alone at home and recorded this album called Kuntur. But it always got stuck in my head the idea that as my friends taught me to play like a game, as my school friends learned like a game, any musician anywhere in the world could learn and play Peruvian music like a game. Then I said, "ok that idea is great, but how I do it?" It sounds very romantic and it sounds very ambitious but... How do I do it if I have no money at all? And all I had was the desire to do it. I mean, how to make different cultures from around the world that did not even know there was a country around here, fall in love with Peruvian music. Then, by coincidences of life. Or twists of fate. I get an email that informs me about the artist residencies of UNESCO. What does UNESCO do? Once a year a composer is chosen among all the composers in the world. Easy, right? I said, "this is impossible." So I said: "I have an impossible project, I have an impossible possibility, lets send it". What can I lose? So I made the project and sent it. Honestly, and with confidence in the project, but saying: "impossible". A few months later I get an email where they tell me I had been chosen... for the project. I almost had a heart attack. But I almost had a heart attack for two things: it was the opportunity of a lifetime of being able to make this idea I had of spreading the world of Peruvian music but at the same time UNESCO tells me: "Your project is very nice, your project is very innovative, intercultural and develops the evolution of Peruvian music, etc.. but you only have two months to do it. " I mean, in two months I had to leave, seek, find, teach and make musicians from all over the world learn Peruvian music and in two months there was already a concert with tickets sold, with a theater, even before I left Peru. Me: reading the letter. Without even knowing anyone. Then I said: "How do I do it?" Well, "it's impossible", "let's do it." So I started searching. I went out and started searching. I leave, obviously, my Andean world. I leave Peru. I go out with all these hopes. In order to find people I did not know who they were and I arrived at temperatures I had never reached, languages I had never spoken, cultures that I had never known. And that's where I start this search where I finally, as surreal as it sounds, I got to find a band made by: a Chinese, a Turk, one Vietnamese, two Canadians, a Peruvian and a Colombian In two months they had to learn to play Peruvian music without even knowing I was arriving. And not even knowing I existed. So, I start with these musicians: I start with Huu Bac Quach from Vietnam. Sure, I get to the Vietnamese the Vietnamese had no idea where Peru was on the map an, I am completely honest: I could not locate Vietnam on a map either. Starting there, it was already quite difficult. Later I found Ismail Fencioglu from Turkey. I knock on the door and the Turkish thought I wanted to sell a refrigerator, or something else. He could not figure out what it was I wanted. And I had a hard time making them understand. With Jaito Gomez and René Orea Sanchez from Venezuela and Colombia it was much easier because they spoke my language. Canadians Francois Taillefer and Eric Breton knew neither what a "festejo" was, what a "huayno" was. They knew absolutely nothing. They thought "el cajón" was Spanish. And with my friend Shuhang Rao, that was like a comedy film because his English was Chinese (for me) and my English was "Chinese" to him. And we began to talk by mimicking, we played charades, it was crazy. But we finally started talking with instruments. And so they start, with those faces... (Laughs) To try to understand what it is ... (laughs) What are we talking about (laughs). Isn't that right? What is a "festejo", what is a "landau", what is a "charango". And that's how we started this adventure. Finally we made it to the concert in those two months. And UNESCO awarded us as the best project in the history of the UNESCO Aschberg residence. We started getting lots of prizes as an intercultural music project. And that was something I did not expect because I went out to do this project with the aim of looking for friends, but I started receiving lots of tours and concerts and they bought shows, etc. We started doing lots of concerts until I say: "Well, I have to bring them to Peru". And we did a concert in the main plaza of Lima, absolutely free. So people could know what had happened. But I thought that at that point, something was still missing. It was still missing that essence that makes you wake up to your full capacity. Not only that you know it, because I never gave them scores. I would have gotten robots if I gave scores. I started to work with them with primary activities: dancing, moving, etc... But what I felt was that they had to know the origin of everything. And so I take them to Huancayo, 3500 m above sea level Imagine the Chinese, Turkish and Vietnamese at 3500 meters above sea level They wanted to die! But I get to Huancayo and what I do is I take them to close the circle, to a school that was very near the school where I learned to play. And we started playing with the children. And I said, "do you know where Turkey Is?" "No!" Then came the Turk and played a song in Turkish. "Where is Vietnam?" And the Vietnamese came out, etc. And so we began an interaction with the children. And it was pretty crazy because they were children from Huancayo playing with children from all parts of the world, obviously a little older, but in the end we were all kids playing and sharing. And in the end the children gave us a song in Quechua, where we all went into tears, very emotional. Just because of the excitement. And so the project "Sonidos Vivos" (Living Sounds) closes. But closes only to move forward because it is- and I think that's why I'm here, it's a start. Of a larger Peruvian project that is going to the world and is infecting the world. And it is evidence that anyone can learn an instrument, that anyone can learn to dance, or anyone can start feeling things to begin to develop activities or to begin developing skills that you have never had. I am sure that, out of TED you will seek an instrument or you are going to- Because if a Vietnamese can play charango! Come on, right?! So, I wanted to tell this story and also wanted to introduce you now to my new friends, from school, and my new brothers with whom we are sharing the Peruvian music and we are trying to bring the Peruvian music, but finally we're playing among ourselves because we are all human beings, no matter where we come from. (Applause) (Andean music)

Video Details

Duration: 18 minutes and 43 seconds
Country: Peru
Language: Spanish (Spain)
License: All rights reserved
Genre: None
Views: 86
Posted by: michaelb on May 12, 2012

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