By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza
Mario Porfirio Gutiérrez
Mario Gutiérrez was born in 1945 in the village of Pukarani (department of La Paz, Bolivia), immersed in the traditional Aymara atmosphere of which music was an essential part. He moved to La Paz to finish his secondary education and became involved in journalism. It was at this time when Mario started to concentrate on music and developed the first musical style of his own combining indigenous and criollo music.
In La Paz, in October 1968, he founded the quintet Ruphay, which he conducted. Ruphay (in Quechua, "light and heat of the sun" or, more poetically, "ray of sunlight") brought together the talents of specialist wind, string and percussion players (among them Ery Cortez, founder of the group Ukamau), with a deep knowledge of authentic traditional Bolivian music. Between 1968 and 1985, working alongside this band, Gutiérrez spread the Andean music throughout the world and was awarded several prizes, while a number of albums were released: "Nosotros: el quinteto Ruphay", "Folklore de Bolivia" and the three volumes under the name of "Kollasuyo".
In 1973 he moved to Europe and from 1967 onwards Gutiérrez stop using criollo elements in his compositions and, together with Ruphay, devoted entirely to composing and performing indigenous music.
In doing so, they played instruments such as mohoseños (long flute with a secondary pipe working as an aeroduct), tarkas (carved wooden duct flutes) and pinkillos (duct flutes) and wrote the lyrics either in Quechua or Aymara languages.
In addition, they used music as a means to acknowledge and encourage the work and cultural values of the Andean native peoples: in fact, one of the compositions, "Jach'a uru" (in Aymara, "the big day") became a sort of anthem for indigenous movements in the 80s and until now.
After 1985 Gutiérrez sought new ways of expression. Slowly he moved away from the music scene and went on to write the book "El huérfano cósmico" (literally, “The cosmic orphan”). However, it did not take him too long to find the way back to the paths of composition and in 1994 he launched "Kimsa pachanaka". A few days later of the presentation of this work Gutiérrez died in Ambers (Belgium).
The list of his productions includes traditional-style songs such as "Tata Inti", "Khespichiway", the sikuri "Promesa de amor", the mohoseñada "Aroma de baile", the morenada "Cielo de los morenos", the estampa "Embrujo andino", the bailecito "Ay, amor", the fantasía "A mi tierra", the cueca "La prometida", the tonada "Jailli jailli", the tarkeada "Pilpinto" and the famous and already mentioned ayarichi "Jach'a uru".