News Column

Peru Folk Music Festival Tries to Take Back Halloween

Oct. 31, 2012

Peruvians celebrated "criolla" folk music Wednesday, a decades-old October 31 tradition that some musicians say is being threatened by the onslaught of Halloween, imported from abroad.

Criolla (Homegrown) Music Day was established in 1944 as a time for songwriters, composers and performers to come together with Peruvians from all social strata to celebrate their music together.

Its a day of "drinking and dancing, and the revelry lasts two days because November 1 is the religious holiday of All Saints' Day," said Augusto Polo Campos, one of Peru's top composers.

But in recent years the holiday has been threatened by an onslaught of Halloween paraphernalia.

"The folk song is in danger. Now there is more propaganda on radio and television for Halloween, belittling music shows," Polo Campos told AFP.

The musician noted that many schools encourage children to dress up and bring pumpkins in on October 31 for Halloween, and the final week of October finds many stores filled with displays of witches, skulls and pumpkins.

This year, Polo Campos launched "a warning to the Ministry of Culture to defend the national heritage from the invasion of Halloween."

But guitarist Oscar Aviles told reporters folk music is not going anywhere.

"The 'criollismo' is not dead because art can't disappear," he said.

"Its supporters can die, but not the music itself," he said, alluding to the deaths in the past year of well-known Peruvian folk musicians.

Peruvian folk music is characterized by lively rhythm featuring guitars, castanets and other traditional Peruvian instruments. Some of the music traditions trace their roots to African slaves brought across the Atlantic into the 1800s.

Source: COPYRIGHT 2002 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

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