Inti-Illimani | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


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For most Americans, Andean folk music begins and ends with the sound of flutes played in harmony and the strumming of the tiple, the Colombian 12-string guitar--i.e., the sound of Simon & Garfunkel's "El Condor Pasa (If I Could)." There's plenty of that distinctive flavor in the music of Inti-Illimani, but those who've dipped into the 35-year career of Chile's preeminent folkloric band have gotten plenty more: a seemingly bottomless trove of traditional music from Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru, supplemented steadily by new tunes that carry on the Andean folk tradition and by an infusion of elements from Europe and Africa--one result of their nearly 15 years in political exile. (Latin America's nueva cancion movement, of which the group was a part, linked the indigenous musical forms of the region with a call for social justice; on assuming power in Chile in 1973 the Pinochet government banned the music, murdered the seminal songwriter Victor Jara, and barred the return of Inti-Illimani, who were touring Italy at the time.) History and politics aside, however, they've made their considerable reputation with a seamless, often ethereal blend of instruments and voices, and with the exquisite musicianship and professionalism they bring to a musical heritage as rich as it is old. They've managed to gain American listeners too, without compromising their vision. To date their sole concession to this audience has been to provide English translations of titles and lyrics with last year's lovely Lugares comunes (Xenophile); the band continues to perform exclusively in Spanish. $28 in advance, $30 at the door. Monday and Tuesday, July 5 and 6, 8:30 PM, HotHouse, 31 E.Balbo; 312-362-9707.


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