With deep sounding pipes, haunting flutes and fast-paced rhythms played on a guitar-like instrument made from the shell of an armadillo, Sukay creates an ethereal, pulsating sound that fills listeners with the energy and strenth of the Andes Mountains. Like an orchestra too, Sukay draws from a broad palette of exotic sounds: the deep, sharp, airy lasts of the medieval-sounding toyos (pan pipes with graduated tubes up to 5 feet long); the high, vocal inflections of the kena (notched flute); the shimmering ring of the charango (a mandolin-like instrument made from an armadillo shell); and the resonant tones and muted percussive drive of the classical guitar.
Sukay is directed by the legendary Bolivian composer and one of the greatest master exponents of the charango: Eddy Navia. He was a founding member of the famous group Savia Andina with whom he recorded 30 albums, three of which went gold. Savia Andina was a major force in bringing Andean Folk Music into the mainstream, even hitting the Top 40 charts in South America. Eddy Navia has also recorded eight solo albums.
Sukay was founded in 1975, by Quentin Howard (Executive Director, pan-pipes, flutes, and lead vocals), who in describing her first experience in hearing the zamponas or pan-pipes, being played says, "That sound went right to the heart of me." It is Howard’s true sense of intimacy with the music she plays that has made her such a natural on stage and has allowed her to connect with, educate and inspire audiences for the last 20 years.
The music of Sukay has its roots in a 5000 year old, pre-Inca culture that believes in a strong relationship between life and nature that can be heard in the sound of the instruments. Though the group still performs the traditional compositions of the Andes, Sukay continues to look toward ways to break new ground.
Sukay World Music is a woman, husband, son owned family label. Gabriel Navia, who composed the first song on the Encuentros CD when he was twelve, has been a major source of inspiration in the making of Pachamama. The label has received many honors for its 12 recordings including two Indies World International Music Awards.
Isaac Lopez , from the Aymara Indigenous Community of La Paz Bolivia, has been performing Andean music professionally since the age of 7. His first group, "el trio Kana Wara", was founded by his father Fausto Lopez and Don Nicolas Garcia. He became a member of the recording group Sicuris del Altiplano and later formed Chuspitas and toured throughout South America. In 1982, Isaac became a member of the internationally known touring group Aymara with whom he performed in France, Japan and throughout Europe and Canada. In 1995, Isaac joined Sukay and has been performing on the wind instruments and giving lectures and demonstrations of Andean flute, drum and pan-pipe construction.
Sukay has toured extensively throughout the United States, Canada and South America, appearing at such venues as Carnegie Hall, The Smithsonian Institute and Lincoln Center and draws from a talented list of South American based performers, including visiting musicians from the Andes and other special guests such as mandolin virtuoso, David Grisman, who recorded two songs with SUKAY on Return of the Inca.
Sukay performs year-round in concerts, festivals, carnavals, special events, master classes, lecture demonstrations and residencies. As a touring member of the California Arts Council, grants/matching funds are often available to eligible sponsors.