When Inca goes back to the music of the good old days for its performance tonight in San Juan Capistrano, the Los Angeles-based ensemble will go waaaaaaaaay back.
In addition to the familiar Peruvian folk tune "El Condor Pasa," a pop hit in 1970 for Simon and Garfunkel, the group's repertoire includes 3,000-year-old music and dances from Peru's ancient Aymara and Quechua civilizations, which existed between 900 BC and AD 1530.
"We are a strictly traditional group," said founder Guillermo Bordarampe. "We want each culture to live on through its music."
For its performance at the San Juan Capistrano Regional Library, Inca's lineup will include Bordarampe on guitar and vocals, Fernando Popayan on woodwinds and percussion, Tito Ugarte on vocals and percussion and Victor Vento on lead guitar and vocals.
The group employs such traditional handmade instruments as the zampona, quena and toyo --three types of wooden panpipes crafted out of bamboo. The bombo, a drum made out of a hollowed-out tree, keeps the beat, and the charango, a 10-string instrument made from an armadillo shell, is often used to provide the melody. The result is a sound that is both joyous and haunting.
In some songs the panpipes' sound is birdlike; in others it resembles the wind moaning through the trees. "This is no accident," said Bordarampe, a native of Argentina who grew to love the music of Peru. "The Peruvians use their music to express nature, beauty and the spirit of an area."
Tonight's performance will include music from Peru's mountains and high plateaus as well as music from the central coast that is characterized by its African influence.
Inca's first recording was produced in 1989 with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council. The group has performed at the Hollywood Bowl, the Southwest Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and at various folk festivals in Canada and the United States.
Bordarampe formed Inca in 1981 after leaving Arco Iris, a popular Latin jazz fusion group he co-founded in 1978. "I decided to devote myself to what I love, and that's the traditional music of Peru," he said.
"When I was with Arco Iris, we traveled all over South America, Europe and Japan," he said. "But what I really enjoyed was spending time with the native people in the little towns of Peru."
Inca performs at 7 and 9 p.m. at the San Juan Capistrano Regional Library courtyard, 31495 El Camino Real, San Juan Capistrano. Admission: $2. Information: (714) 493-1752.