About us

 

What they say about the Zampoñistas

What we do

Who are the Zampoñistas?

History

What they say about the Zampoñistas

  • The Zamponistas create a really special moment as performers. They appear from nowhere and process through in a flash of colour and melodic rhythm then disappear through the crowd or wend their way around a corner leaving a wave of delight in their wake. It’s like moving meditation. They get up close amongst us on the street. The effect is rich with surprise and curiosity, arresting our attention with a moment of spontaneous cheer that’s hard to explain. The audience unwittingly become part of the performance – and they love it.
    Giselle Nathan, Street Choirs program at the National Folk Festival.
  • As an MC you get to know lots of acts, and some stand out. Melbourne's Zampanistas are the essence of folk, a tribe of troubadours who are fun, memorable and surprising. They mix traditional Bolivian attire, vocals, dance and panpipes with aplomb and love a good parody. The Zampanistas engage you easily and are a great pleasure to work with, welcome on any stage.
    Kate Austin, Chief Master of Ceremonies, National Folk Festival
  • The Zamponistas are a really original roving act that is both visually striking and musically impressive. I will certainly be programming them again in the future and would not hesitate to recommend them.
    Emily Fuller, Festivals & Events Officer, Darebin Music Feast
  • So lovely to catch a little of you Zamponistering through the streets and parks. Adds such a beautiful dimension. I especially loved the soft, breathy rendition of Cohen's 'Dance me' and the sweetly mysterious presence of your entries and exit in Earth Hour. Charming, enchanting, engaging. Made me feel like a little kid in wonderment again.
    Fay White, Musician, performer, Yackandandah Folk Festival
  • You sounded fab at the Nash, & the show was very professional. Well done!  Groupies - Amelia, Jackie & Pete
  • ‘I’m being followed everywhere by Australian wannabe Peruvians…(then, upon correction from one of the band) …’Oh, you are with them?  Oh, I’m so sorry!’ Stephan Grossman
  • ‘I think we can say they’re performers’ Port Fairy Folk Festival security guard to another guard.

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What we do

The Zampoñistas are Australia’s premier Bolivian altiplano panpipe marching bands.   Yes, they leave all those other Bolivian altiplano pan pipe marching band across Australia for dead!

They bring joy, delight, and real fun to their appearances.

Their act is unique. Dressed in Bolivian ponchos and hats, they weave in and out of crowds, twisting, turning and spinning as they play – totally engaging audiences and innocent bystanders alike!

“Zampoñistas” (pronounced zamp-on-yist-as) is Spanish for ‘panpipe players’. 
This Melbourne based band is made up of musicians with a passion for the haunting and exciting panpipe music of the remote altiplano (high plain) of the Andes. 

The Zampoñistas play mostly traditional tunes of the Inca people, and they play it in the pre-Spanish Inca way.  This involves a unique and fascinating splitting up of the musical scale so that half the notes are played by one set of players (called Ira) and the other half of the scale are played by the other musicians (called Arca).

The Incas pioneered stereo sound!  It creates an exciting dynamic in the music.
The traditional music is often accompanied by the bombo legüero, an ancient drum with a deep and dark sound due to the fur being left on the hide of the hitting surface. It may also include a snare drum, adding a raucous energy to the authentic village music of Bolivia. They also play some more modern tunes and songs accompanied by the guitar.

The band’s repertoire has expanded to include original pieces and tunes from other cultures. They have worked with the Solomon Islands’ Narasirato Panpipers and include some of their music.  And don’t miss their take on Waltzing Matilda or Leonard Cohen’s Dance Me to the End of Love!

The Zampoñistas have performed at major festivals, including the Port Fairy and National Folk Festivals, as well as community festivals and many other events and venues. They have a strong commitment to strengthening community and have supported community activities such as playing at aged care and disability centres, a forum for carers, the Parkinson's Unity walk, school fetes and other fund raising events.

The band’sdiverse members are united by three things: their love of panpipe music, their love of chocolate, and their unstoppable but totally irrational belief in world domination by panpipes!
… And watch out for their guerrilla panpiping!

The band has gradually evolved its unique guerilla panpiping style. Dressed in Bolivian ponchos and hats, they weave in and out of crowds, twisting, turning and spinning as they play – totally engaging audiences and innocent bystanders alike!
They have developed a unique form of musical guerilla surprise attacks as part of their street performances. They may surround you as you sit sipping coffee at a festival or market, or they may pop up in supermarket aisles, or on an escalator!

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Who are the Zampoñistas?

The Zampoñistas come from a wide variety of musical backgrounds. Several members play other instruments or sing in community choirs. For others, playing the panpipes is their breakthrough into public musical performance.
From a pool of around 20 current members, a Zampoñistas performance will involve anything from 8 to 20 players, depending on availability.
This group of Andean aficionados from Melbourne are mainly gringos, but do include some authentic South American representation!
Here is a list of members, in approximate order of when they joined:

• Tony Bannister
• Annie Kennedy
• Bruce Rigby
• Cathy Dowden
• Mark Silver
• Julia Silver
• Jill Watson
• Kathy Preece
• Libby Nottle
• Antigone Komodromos
• Benjamin Lindner

• Mabelle Gardiol
• Steve Davies
• Liz James
• Gavan Macarthy
• Arlie Macarthy
• Bruce Watson
• Rebecca Bannister
• Raelene Bruinsma
• Alistair Watson
• Judy Avisar

The band includes musicians and performers from many prominent acts:

Band members have also been part of some major former bands, including Machitun, Blackwood and the Great Southern Band.

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History

The Zampoñistas formed in 2003 when two of the founding members, Tony Banister and Annie Kennedy moved to Melbourne (as most good musicians seem to do!) from sunny Perth, where they had been members of Canto Sikuri.  They gathered together a group of friends who shared a love of Andean music – and the band was born.

The original repertoire came from the indigenous pipe and drum tunes learnt from Canto Sikuri’s Alain Thirion.  Alain in turn had worked under Cergio Prudencio and the Experimental Orchestra of Indigenous Instruments in La Paz, and brought back a rich collection instruments and tunes to form a similar ensemble.

Early performaces were relatively spontaneous musical guerilla surprise attacks at the Turramurra Bush Music Camp in Victoria’s Otways. Gradually as the members grew in number and in confidence, they were invited to participate in community events such as benefits for victims of Victoria’s tragic Black Saturday bushfires, Parkinson’s Awareness  Week, CERES’ Kingfisher Festival and others. Such community events remain an important part of the Zampoñistas performing life.

Over the last several years they have also performed at a number of more high profile events, including regular appearances at Frankston’s annual Ventana Latina Festival, the Port Fairy Folk Festival and the National Folk Festival.

They have twice been finalists in the National Folk Festival’s Infinite Song Competition with their Bolivian panpiping take on Mary Poppins and Leonard Cohen (the mind boggles!)

Their repertoire includes concert-style stage performances, which include some background on the music. However, the band’s mainstay is street-style performances.

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