Breaking stereotypes while enjoying Andean music

I was a little nervous about going to my first Andean Music Night at Aroma Cafe last Thursday. As a person of Latin heritage, I generally try to avoid these things as they often showcase all the stereotypes of Latin culture that have become so prevalent — have you seen the latest Indiana Jones movie?
I went expecting to see short, dark featured men wearing ponchos and playing wooden flutes with the requisite llama standing to the side because, sadly, this is often what happens when people try to capture an “authentic Peruvian experience.”
I was pleasantly surprised to find the opposite. Rather than a display of all things deemed “Peruvian,” I found the small concert to be a subtle celebration of the music performed by people who knew the culture.
Headed by Kate Hathaway, a recent graduate of the University, the small group of Kate Hathaway and the Two Torinos featured the authentic Peruvian sounds of acoustic guitar, subtle vocals and the Quena, a flute-like instrument, without any of the gimmicks — not a llama in sight.
“Everything in Peru is beautiful,” Hathaway said. “All of the music is just amazing. If you just go there, you’re inspired.”
Hathaway studied music in Peru last summer. During her time there, she said she went on tour with a small band, which helped her get a sense of the real Peruvian culture.
“For everyone there (in Peru), their entertainment is music,” she said. “Where I studied, there was no TV or radio. People got together, played music and danced.
Hathaway replicated that culture almost exactly. The small, tiled patio behind Aroma Cafe, lined with overhead lights and accompanied by cool weather and great company, provided the perfect setting to transport me to the country. In its simplicity, it was one of the most relaxing and most authentic Latin experiences I’ve ever had.

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