The Kennedy Center

Ecuadorian Hatun Kotama Cultural Center


Nestled between three Andean volcanoes in the arts-centric municipality of Otavalo, Hatun Kotama is a success story that defies globalization, steers tradition in a new direction, and revitalizes a musical practice that was once considered obsolete. Hatun Kotama performs in Kichwa, a Quechuan language designated by UNESCO as endangered. The Hatun Kotama Cultural Center was founded in the early 2000s by Luis Enrique Cachiguango and several flute masters from the region. In an era when indigenous people of Ecuador denounced oppression and rallied for their rights, the center/school was seen as a means of self-affirmation and a way to preserve their heritage. The Hatun Kotama music draws from a pre-Incan musical practice commonly called gaita. In Otavalo, gaita refers to a specific type of side-blown flute historically used to summon rain and pray for prosperity during rituals, festivals, and rites of passage. 

The flute masters from the Hatun Kotama Flute School embody the Runakuna, a term that means to be a fully human being in the Andes. They are leaders in the cultural revival of the transverse flute tradition that has vanished in most communities. Whistling, stamping, and vocals – ranging from everyday speech to poetic incantations to stylized speech – accompany the music created by the flutes.
Ecuadorian Hatun Kotama Cultural Center