Son Rompe Pera’s “Marimba in the Hood” Concert

Is cumbia the new punk? How Son Rompe Pera gets crowds moshing to marimbas at El Barrio, and why it’s good for business and for the economy.

We had high hopes for the marimba march Son Rompe Pera on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in downtown Seattle. But the marimba is not one of the most popular instruments in our culture.

Most of us have forgotten Son Rompe Pera, the marimba orchestra that performed at the 2008 Olympics Opening Ceremony. Those marimba pieces were broadcast on TV. And that’s what Son Rompe Pera is supposed to do for young people.

Son Rompe Pera, made up of young, gifted musicians, creates an experience for young people that combines classical music, poetry and dance into one performance. It’s called “El Barrio,” (Latin for “the neighborhood”) and it’s happening this Saturday.

There were about 2,200 marimba players in a packed crowd in an open air and heated tent city along Lake Washington at the edge of downtown Seattle to make up Son Rompe Pera’s “Marimba in the Hood” show.

Son, the marimba and marimba percussion player and owner of the marimba orchestra told me this is an important event for the marimba community in general. He said Son was tired of seeing marimba musicians play in small intimate settings.

“The marimba is great as a percussion instrument, but we feel like it’s not part of the music culture that we want to create…The marimba is not the most popular instrument in our culture,” he said.

“We think that we want to have an open concert, one that is much bigger in scope and has people from around the world,” he said. “In the last two years we’ve had over 100 marimba orchestras around the world come to Seattle. We have over 30 marimba orchestras in the U.S. and over 600 marimbas in Spain.”

This show isn’t just about son Rompe Pera — it’s

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