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Peruvian musicians visit area schools

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TERI VANCE
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Carlos Fernando Ocampo Santillian, (Hatun Runa), dances with Dayton High School music appreciation students Thursday in Dayton.
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Tono Zampona considers music to be the “center of his life,” and he shared a piece of his life with Dayton High School students Thursday.

“Todo lo puedo dejar menos parar de cantar (I could leave everything behind except singing),” he said.

Zampona, whose real name is Marco Antonio Ocampo, traveled to Nevada from Peru with his brother, Carlos Ocampo, to teach students here about their music, culture and language.

Dressed in traditional Inca attire, the two have spent the week introducing students to the airy, mystical music of the Andes created through instruments such as the zampona, quena and the charango.

“It’s a first-hand experience of how they live their lives,” said Clinton Thomas, 18. “It brings out a new style of music we’ve never heard before, being in America with all of the trends.”

The Ocampo brothers met Dayton High School Spanish teacher Julie Lozana while she was on a five-week study program in Peru in July.

She invited them to visit her school and helped make arrangements for them to come.

“Language and culture can’t be taken apart,” she said. “Students can’t learn the language without feeling their culture.

“It’s been the most beautiful thing. I keep pinching myself. I can’t believe they’re here.”

It is their first trip to the United States and they will be visiting schools in Carson City and the University of Nevada, Reno until the end of January when they are to return to Peru.

“We’re very happy to be here in Nevada,” Carlos said. “What better satisfaction for us to come and teach the culture and heritage of our country? Music doesn’t have any borders, the imagination of the music can transport you to other places.”

The presentation piqued 15-year-old Brandy Fitzgerald’s interest in traveling.

“It sounds so interesting,” she said. “I would like to visit there.”

The brothers, who are tour guides and musicians in their hometown of Cuzco near Machu Picchu, introduced the students to folk songs and taught them the basics of traditional Peruvian dances.

Alecia Adlefson, 16, was one of the volunteers who learned the dance.

“It wasn’t hard to learn, it was just sort of difficult because it was different than normal dancing,” she said. “It was pretty cool.”

The two will perform for the community at Comma Coffee in Carson City on Saturday, and will consider additional appointments.

Contact Teri Vance at tvance@nevadaappeal.com or at 881-1272.