By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza
Information available on Jorge Milchberg and the band he was part of for most of his musical career, Los Incas/Urubamba, is far from complete, neither in detail nor in coverage. Milchberg was born in September 1928 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In the 1950s, when he was already a pianist and a scholar musician, Milchberg moved to France, where he developed his career as performer, arranger and musical director, stimulated by his exposure to the works of the Spanish singer-songwriter Paco Ibáñez and the French singer and actress Marie Laforêt.
At the time, Paris was the Mecca for artists, writers and musicians of every kind, particularly for South Americans. "L'Escale", a cozy Left Bank locale, became a place of refuge or meeting place, which saw the birth of a number of bands that would later become famous, such as Los Chacos, which was formed in 1953 and consisted entirely in of French musicians led by Jean-Michell Cayre. Overall, and until the arrival of Bolivian performers (Los Jairas in 1969, Los Ruphay in 1972), they were mostly Argentinean musicians who had brought "Andean" sounds and melodies to France (and Europe) between the 1950s and the 1960s. It was in this atmosphere that Milchberg first encountered the charango and his homeland's folk music, to both of which he devoted himself, thus beginning a fruitful relationship.
He joined the famous group Los Incas (later known as Urubamba) as charango player and director after Argentine Ricardo Galeazzi left. Milchberg, contrary to popular belief, was not in the original line-up, which included, alongside Galeazzi, the Argentine quena player Carlos Ben-Pott, Elio Riveros and Narciso Denbourg, both of them from Venezuela. The line-up did not remain stable and the band went through several line-up changes (Carlos Guerra Belisario entered the band after Riveros and Denbourg left). Other musicians to join the band were Jorge Cumbo and Mariano "Uña" Ramos, who would later become internationally renowned. By 1963, Los Incas already performed "El cóndor pasa", a Milchberg's arrangement of the music of a zarzuela (Spanish lyric-dramatic genre that alternates between spoken and sung scenes) written by Peruvian Daniel Alomía Robles, which would later be popularized by Simon & Garfunkel, propelling the band to fame.
Milchberg's discography with Los Incas includes, among others, "Urubamba" (1972), "Urubamba" (1974), "Un pedazo de infinito" (1982), "El cóndor pasa" (1985), "Alegría" (1995), "Un instant d'éternité" (1996), "Los Incas en concierto" (2000) and "El último" (2002). In addition, Milchberg has released two albums as solo charango player: "Dedicaces / Charango solo" (1991) and "Charango" (1999). He has toured internationally and performed at many of the world's important venues. Besides having composed and played many of his own musical works, Milchberg has collaborated with a number of other artists. His composition and performance style on the charango is bold and eclectic, influenced by multiple musical currents and styles.
Article. "Los Incas / Urubamba", in Música Andina [es].