Venado Azul: Preserving pre-Hispanic music
Interview with Luis Cruz, founder of Venado Azul, instrument maker and organizer of the Toltequidad festival
By Gustavo Munguia and Arnulfo Mancera
We are a group of musicians, dancers and instrument makers who met as children, through dance. Our cultural project is aimed at preserving the Otomí, Chichimeca, Wixarica and Aztec cultures in a creative fusion of music and dance, with representative costumes of ancient tribes.Concert Venado Azul Pre-Hispanic music Sat, Mar 22, 6pm Santuario Madre Tierra Carretera a La Cienguita, Km 2.8
In the mid-1990s we first formed the group Venado Azul, and over the years it has evolved. We currently have eight members. We have traveled throughout Mexico and to Russia, Italy, Spain and France, performing with other bands, mainly the group Tribu, which revived in 1984 the art of creating pre-Hispanic instruments and fostered some arts groups in the region of Mineral de Pozos, which led to the traditional festival named Toltequidad that every summer features dances, ceremonies, concerts, workshops and exhibitions.
The band’s songs are our own original compositions. Our music could be called “ethno-fusion,” traditionally known as “music of the gods,” created using pre-Columbian instruments from Mexico and other countries. It is music for all ages and all nationalities that transports listeners back to ancient Anahuac, the basin of Mexico, through the use of drums, huehuetls, ocarinas, flutes, rain sticks, didgeridoos, rattles, and teponaztle, among other instruments.
Venado Azul has offered workshops on creating musical instruments in Querétaro, San Luis Potosí and Guanajuato, including in elementary schools, to promote pre-Hispanic culture among children and young people and has received recognition for its work in promoting local culture.
The group has performed several times in San Miguel Allende. To celebrate the spring equinox, we will give a concert acknowledging this important beginning of the life cycle, which is part of our indigenous roots, the time of year when the land is fertile and ready to receive seeds. “Xilone” will be our first theme, alluding to the deity of corn, the primary food of the ancient Mexicans, representing the feminine energy that gives life. We invite everyone to this outdoor concert honoring awareness and peace for our land and our life, on Saturday, March 22, at 6pm in the Santuario Madre Tierra, near La Cieneguita. For more information see www.santuariomadretierra.com