I NKARAYKU is a Quechua word that means “because of the Incas.” Led by founder Andres Jimenez, the group seeks to link the past, present and future of Andean arts, through the performance of indigenous music forms that have evolved into the contemporary mestizo music heard today. Inkarayku’s sound blends the organic power of Quechua folk songs with the energy and edge unique to our City that never sleeps. The band’s diverse line-up brings together a river of musical and artistic experience resulting in Andean folk music that transcends cultural boundaries and seamlessly shares the stage with other folk traditions of the Americas.
Founded in 2010, INKARAYKU developed out of Jimenez’s former group INKA KUSI SONQO. The ensemble has grown to include a full line up of Andean flutes, strings, percussion and vocals. INKARAYKU has performed at such notable venues as New York University, Cornell University, Brooklyn Public Library System, Queens Library System, Hoboken Public Library, Pachamama Peruvian Arts, Festival Andino, Leftfield Bar and Grill, Lucky Jacks NYC, the Nyack Village Theatre, Terraza 7, Summer Under the 7, and many more.
Naomi Sturm – Vocals & Percussion
Naomi is a NYC-based folklorist and performing artist. She completed her graduate work in Ethnomusicology at Columbia University, where she worked extensively with Andean musical traditions in the diaspora. Currently the Director of Folklife at Staten Island Arts, Naomi has worked for many years with immigrant and ethnic communities throughout the City on presenting traditional arts and developing educational and public programming. A specialist in music and the immigrant experience, Naomi initially joined Inkarayku in 2011 as the group’s manager and producer. In 2013, together with Carlos Moises Ambia, she began to perform with the band as a lead vocalist.
A native New Yorker, Naomi was born on Spring Street into a family of folk music lovers and aficionados. She grew up surrounded by the sites and sounds of what was by then the fading scene of the Greenwich Village folk revival. Andres Jimenez has been her principle teacher and mentor of Andean music, however as a performer she blends this knowledge with that of American roots music, the Anglo-American ballad tradition, and East European folk melodies. She is above all, a lover of songs and stories, and informs every performance with this passion.
Carlos Moises Ambia – Winds and Vocals
Carlos Moises (affectionately known as Momo) comes from one of NYC’s great Andean music families. The son of the late Carlos Ambia (former member of Tahuantinsuyo and Inka Kusi Sonqo), he grew up around the tradition, picking up his first Quena at age of 7. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY with heritage from Apurimac and Huaraz, Peru, Momo apprenticed and performed with Inka Kusi Sonqo before helping Andres Jimenez (his cousin) to found Inkarayku in 2010.
Andres guided and refined Momo’s musical talents over the year’s, however it is a deep respect for his roots and history lead Momo to channel his artistic passion into what Inkarayku is today.
Andres Jimenez – Musical Director (Winds, Strings & Vocals)
Andres, Inkarayku’s founding musical director and multi-instrumentalist comes from a long line of Andean musicians. Although a primarily self-taught artist, like Carlos Moises, he was born into a musical family. Over the years he apprenticed and recorded with many of the New York area Andean music greats such as Guillermo Guerrero, Pepe Santana, Carlos Ambia, Walter Aparicio, and Jose Alberto Ruiz. He is well known and respected for the flexibility and precision of his performances with the traditional groups Tahuantinsuyo, Inkay, Wayramarka, Grupo Khana and Sumaq Punchau respectively.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, with heritage from Apurimac and the northern coast of Peru, Andres is also heavily steeped in the traditions of American rock and heavy metal. He founded the group Inka Kusi Sonqo with his uncle Carlos Ambia, in the 1990s. The band specialized in Peruvian Quechua music with a line-up that combined community elders, established members of NYC’s Andean music scene, and Andres’s own students. Inkarayku is the most contemporary incarnation of this musical lineage. It is through this ensemble that Andres seeks to brand a uniquely New York-Andean sound drawing on his position as a second-generation Andean New Yorker and the diverse backgrounds of its members.
Adam Negrin – Guitar
Born and raised in New York, Adam is a guitarist influenced by a variety of musical styles. He studied jazz theory and improvisation with guitarist Peter Mazza before entering the Aaron Copland School of Music to train in classical guitar, composition, and music theory. During this period he was co-founder of the electric guitar quartet, Bodies Electric, and the Brooklyn-based electrofunk dance-party group, Electric Kool-Aid. Adam also studied Zen shakuhachi and classical Japanese Sankyoku with Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin. When he is not playing guitar with Inkarayku he is a PhD student at Lehman College and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York investigating the chemistry of caffeine-containing plants from the Amazon with a focus on holly species and cacao.
Erico Benavente – Guitar, Bass
Born Jersey City, raised in Brooklyn, NY to a Colombian mother and Peruvian father, Erico’s first musical encounter was as a young DJ learning to match beats by ear. During college he began to pick up musical instruments such as the guitar and electric bass. His first stab at Andean music was with a college friend from Ayacucho, Peru who taught him to play typical melodies on the Zamponas or Sikus.
In 1998 he met Andres Jimenez and and began to play in Inka Kusi Sonqo while studying the range of rhythms and musical styles from the South American Andes. Years later he followed Andres as he formed Inkarayku, becoming the group’s rhythm guitar and now bass player.
Erico has taken classes in Recorded Sound and Music Theory at Columbia University where he works as a Computer and Audio Visual Lead Technician.
Ben Rosen – Percussion
Ben is a multimedia artist who works in video, photography, painting and now music. He has been involved in Andean music since he was given a Zampoña as a birthday gift. Ben has travelled extensively throughout many regions of Perú and absorbed many of the nuances of each culture. His music teachers have been Jesús Larrea, Daniel Landeo and Hector Morales, amongst others. He currently plays with Los Hijos de la Gran Puna and Inkarayku. Ben is originally from Puerto Rico.