Yol K'u (Inside the Sun)
Mayan Mountain Music
There is also a film on DVD written and acted by the kids, Xapin y Axul, a sort of Chuj language version of Romeo and Juliet coached by Charles Krezell and scenes of the children playing and composing the music in San Mateo.
From Wire Magazine, Feburary 2009
In Dave Soldier the art prankster and serious educator seem to meet most productively. His training included studying sax wirth Roscoe Mitchell, playing guitar for Bo Diddley, and a doctorate in neuroanatomy. Recently he taught elephants to play music (Thai Elephant Orchestra) and coaxed a whole album of avant-garde jazz our of Brooklyn two to ten year olds (The Tangerine Awkestra).
That last project led directly to this one, where Soldier and his team have gone into the mountains of northern Guatemala, to a remote Mayan Indian high school, and coached the schoolchildren to compose their own pieces on the local giant marimbas. These instruments, regularly found in Guatemalan dance music, have a warm seductive tone, but can rasp or honk when hit vigorously. Soldier used coloured tape on the keys to devise 'game pieces' which sould like Steve Reich's Ensemble got tipsy at a party. Later we hear the local Mayan dance group (marimbas, drum kit, bass) also based at the Yinhatil Nab'en high school.. The the kids extol their village in a swaggering hiphop lament" "The road is bad because no one fixes it."
There's more: a half hour DVD shows the young comosers at work, plus a Romoe And Juliet -style village love drama filmed by Charles Krezell, again all devised by the kids. The underlying idea- if children are studying music they should be composing their own stuff - is a recent one , and Soldier's projects are fascinating demonstrations of what this enlightened approach can achieve. - Clive Bell