Intirraymi is the largest fiesta held in Cuzco and it is carried out every 24th of June. Not only do large numbers of the residents of Cuzco participate in Intiraymi, they also attend the event. People from other parts of Peru as well as other countries also come in large numbers to enjoy the performance’s enchantment.
In order to carry out Intirraymi, large numbers of performers, dancers and musicians, are needed, especially given the different parts and songs in the pageant that lasts most of the day. All the performers have to practice arduously for many days first of all to be chosen and secondly to carry out this impressive and unique feast of the sun.
I am a musician in Intirraymi, and have performed for several years now on the drum. The whole set of musicians practices very hard, along with the dancers, at the direction of staff from EMUFEC, the Municipal Agency for Fiestas in Cuzco. We have to establish the rhythm and the base of the pageant so that the magnificent choreography of Intirraymi can be performed in the different sets of the city, such as the Qoricancha, the Plaza de Armas, and Sacsayhuaman.
The musicians are divided into two groups, the winds and percussion. The wind instruments used are the flutes quena and quenacho, the horns pututo either made of bulls horn or conch shell, and other whistles to make special effects in various scenes. The percussion consists of tarolas (drums made from goat hide), the huancas (deep drums made from cowhide), the chacchas (sheep hooves) and the rain stick for special effects.
When this fiesta of the sun is about to arrive, all of us who participate in this great feast have to be ready to transmit to the people the energy of every jump, every melody, every strike on the drums so that with pleasure the ground of every set trembles and every one feels raised up.
When the pageant begins, the first of all the actors and dancers to be seen are we, the musicians. We come out playing and dancing with all the power of the opening songs to begin this great fiesta of the sun. On the scene there is a great force pushing us forward. Our hair stands on end as if we were afraid.
But the drums generate in us with each strike a lot of adrenaline. We also get sad with every melody that emanates from the flutes (quenas). We don’t just play the music. We live it.
These feelings just aren’t the same as those we experience everyday. They are different and somehow more majestic, though they are not easy to describe. This is what we live every 24thof June during Intirraymi while we musicians play.