Tonight, February 5, Miguel Flores will be part of a selected group of musicians that will be at BUH Records’ De-Generado Festival de Improvisación at the Barbilonia Bar in Miraflores.
As he prepares for this event, where he and the other artists will improvise in their own avant-garde style, _Living in Peru_ had the honor to sit with the Peruvian music legend and get to know “the man behind the legend”. This is his story.
Miguel Flores is a man with two personas: the one on stage – the performer, larger than life artist. Then there is the man himself; slight build, pensive, humble, and a strong sense of purpose mixed with quiet determination and a strong voice. Both sides to Miguel Flores are passionate and resolute. He is a man who wears many hats and each fit him well.
To get a sense of who he is, we need to travel back in time and see what shaped his musical world and why he is a force to be reckoned with as an artist and cultural docent for Peru.
Miguel Flores is a true Peruvian of Andean descent. He is very proud of that and it permeates into why he is still in Peru and his noble belief that he needs to be here. He strives to bring art, music and culture to the masses, but we will get to that later. An artist who was shaped by Peruvian folk music and Rossini, as mush as he is influenced by British (The Kinks, The Who) and American groups (Blue Oyster Cult, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, The Byrds). He is a blend of rock, jazz and Peruvian acoustical folk music; strange bedfellows, but he has made this fusion work.
Growing up in Lima, Miguel Flores was fortunate to attend Markham College, considered to be one of the most prestigious schools in Lima, Peru. Founded by British expatriates and often referred to as the Eton of the Andes , Markham promotes a mixture of British and Peruvian education. Its students fulfill the Peruvian national curriculum, as well as the International General Certificate of Secondary Education program from the University of Cambridge. It is a school where only proper English is spoken. However, it was a rough go for Miguel, who was not readily accepted by the Peruvian elite because he was not (as he puts it) “from the right Peruvian social class and with the right skin color.” For most of his time there, he was only accepted by the US, Canadians, Australians or British classmates. He was smart and got exceptional grades and then he started playing the drums and got a group together to form a band. All of this at the ripe age of 13! This increased his popularity with his peers and more so when the band was picked up. His British classmates had all the US and British Invasion vinyl, would help shape his rock sensibilities.
He started the immensely popular rock group Pax in 1972. Then he was in a severe accident and had to re-learn how to walk again. While he was healing, it gave him time to learn how to write music and play other instruments. The accident also took him away from the hard charging rock environment and during this ‘down time’ he began to envision Ave Acustica and his venture into experimental fusion. No one could foresee the resistance by many at the idea of fusing traditional Peruvian with experimental.
A few years later, he started to produce and compose for documentaries, theater groups and choreographers. A Japanese theater group funded by the Japanese foundation, came to Peru to perform and once more fate would intervene. He was chosen to work on a local theater production in Japan. At the end of the production he was asked to stay and have a lucrative career in Japan, but he politely declined so he could bring back culture, arts, music and education back to his beloved Peru. Any other person might have chosen the prestige, fame and fortune over giving back to one’s country. Then again, this is Miguel Flores, a man who truly understands his roots.
In the years that followed, he worked in television, became an audio visual artist and started his own cultural management program. He was chosen to take part in a special cultural exchange program in the US for cultural promoters. Since 1985 he was engaged in commercial television, until he was called to be Director General of Cultural Development at the National Institute of Culture in 1991. In 1992 he was invited as the representative of Peru to spearhead the formation of the Latin American Network of Independent Producers of Contemporary Art, an invitation funded by the US Rockefeller Foundation. This motivated him to retire from both his post as Director and commercial television, to engage in international market research for the Peruvian culture industry. His bio has depth and breadth and a sense of purpose to his country. (For a more detailed view of his accomplishments, please go to his website.)
He is a passionate man about his heritage, country, education, cultural revamping, tourism and all things Peru. This multi-talented musician always has music on the brain, in his heart and soul, and rightfully so. He was hand-picked by Buh Records to be a part of this Friday’s De-Generado Festival de Improvisación.
When you see him on stage this Friday, you will not be seeing the cultural ambassador of Lima, or the producer, the composer, the lecturer, TV producer, professor or his many other roles he juggles. Instead, you will see Miguel Flores, the Peruvian music icon, the performer and that is a treat and honor. We hope to see you there!
_Helena Maria von Schuler was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her parents immigrated from Colombia, South America and Hamburg, Germany. An experienced employee benefits consultant, in the insurance industry, Helena holds a BS form University of California, Los Angeles in Biochemistry and a minor in English. She has lived in Los Angeles, New York and Miami and recently moved to Lima, Peru to experience her South American heritage and culture._Set to perform tonight, legendary Peruvian artist Miguel Flores sat down with _Living in Peru_ and showed a different side to the man so often seen on stage.