July 23, 2024

Hispanic music celebration with USU Eastern’s Perez

A musical celebration for National Hispanic Heritage month on Oct. 9 was celebrated by Associate Professor Elias Perez in the Library and Learning Commons.  His day job is teaching engineering drafting and design at Utah State University Eastern. 

A native of Mexico, Perez came to Utah in 1979 and graduated from the College of Eastern Utah in 1981. Known for his extraordinary musical talents, Perez described his love of sound and musical instruments. 

While in college and not being financially able to purchase a high-quality guitar, he decided to build his own. This led to many hours of research, conversations with other guitar makers and trial and error. Now, forty years later, Elias has made violins, charangos, quatros, ukuleles, flutes and guitars.

Perez was introduced to South American folkloric music while in high school. He played in a band then and still does today. Los Hermanos de los Andes has toured China and played in venues in Utah, Hawaii, California, Oregon and Idaho. You can often find the band playing on KBYU.

He demonstrated a variety of South American rhythms including those from Chile, Argentina and Bolivia, which are very different from the rhythms he grew up with in Mexico. 

Perez played a song on a South American flute, a quena, while being accompanied by accomplished guitarist Jefferson Wade from the USU Eastern’s Maintenance Department. 

A display of wind, string and percussion instruments was included in the presentation. He explained that the sound waves produced depend on the size of the instrument. Small flutes produce a higher pitch because the sound waves are shorter. The same goes for stringed instruments. He emphasized that “sound waves are important.”

After showing and playing quenas, zamponas and charangos, Perez closed his presentation by  playing “La Malagena”, a Flamenco song, played on one of his hand-built guitars. The guitar was made from a chestnut tree that once stood in front of the Central Instructional Building.

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