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Horacio Salinas of Inti Illimani. The Excitement of Returning to Italy from a Free Chile

Culture / -

Horacio Salinas Inti Illimani
Daniele Mascolo / Expo 2015

The times change, but music has never lost its power to mobilize our consciences to just causes. The leader of the musical group Inti Illimani Histórico speaks with us, before holding a concert at Expo Milano 2015 on September 29 to celebrate the National Day of his country.

The name is almost mythic to many people, and brings to mind the great civil movements, the enthusiasm of youth and the anthem "El pueblo unido jamás serà vencido (The people united will never be defeated)." Inti Illimani is synonymous with commitment, vital energy and the courage to take on big topics. World music, too, and thus the ability to speak to the whole world, revitalizing national traditions. For this reason, the group could not miss Expo Milano 2015, where they will give a free concert at the Open Air Theater San Carlo for the National Day of Chile on September 29. Horacio Salinas, leader and soul of the group Inti Illimani Histórico, talked with ExpoNet about the emotions they will feel upon coming back to Italy.
What message would you like to send out with your concert?
It will be a very exciting moment for us, because we spent some very special years in Italy. To return to celebrate our country, now a democracy, is a very different sensation than the one we were used to during the times of our exile. Our presence also should be a testament to Latin American music. It will be a celebration of commitment to the people’s music being played in a democratic setting that continues to spread.
Which civil struggles are you most sensitive to today?
The world is in great distress, and everyone is watching the complex times we are living in. For us, song has been a statement of political struggle, because 30-40 years ago our country urgently needed to restore our rights. The situation has changed today, but there is only one world and every person must know that there are still conditions of grave inequality because of the risk of having economic power concentrated in just a few hands. Today also, then, there is material for a song that bears witness.
Can the music of today still be a universal language, able to create awareness, especially for young people?
But of course! Music has always been and always will be a wonderful engine for people. It is no accident that music is never absent from the Olympics and other global festivities. Put in service for noble ideals, it has an impressive power: we have felt this on our skin, because we were far away but we managed to share our values, and the public put us in a very strong position.
Your song dedicated to Che Guevara, Hasta Siempre Comandante, is very famous. Have there been other figures from recent history that have been examples for you?
We wrote the song Samba Landò during the time that Nelson Mandela was still in prison: the words could be very current today, because racism is still present in many parts of the world, and not only in terms of race, but also as discrimination in terms of access to culture, and everyone knows that without education, no development is possible.
Let’s turn to lighter subjects: do you prefer Italian or Chilean cooking?
I must confess that all of us learned to cook in Italy; I came here at age 22 with my wife.
We are very proud to have brought back to Chile with us many of the secrets of Italian cooking.
We do have our own cuisine, however, which we expect has been well represented at the Universal Exposition, where we trust that our Pavilion is giving consistent proof of it. Chilean cooking is relatively new; there is a great tradition of pre-Columbian cooking that is now beginning to make a come back, so I believe this is a time of culinary growth.
Which dishes do you still just have to have?
We learned to cook in Rome, so bucatini all’amatriciana, spaghetti alla carbonara, all the ways of preparing spaghetti are a must for us. They are dishes that we know how to make very well. 
What do you expect from your visit to Expo Milano 2015?
This is not the first Universal Exposition we have participated in. We know that it is a great occasion. Every time we come back to Italy we are eager to learn about current affairs, including culture, artists, etc. In this case, we will be able to update ourselves on the whole world at once!

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