FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Fernando Valencia moved to Arkansas from Colombia in 2002, and he’s been teaching music to University of Arkansas students for more than a decade. His love for drums goes all the way back to his Latin American roots.
“The first time I felt attraction to music I was walking down the street in Colombia, and there was a group of drummers playing in the street. And, I was walking with my mom, and I just stared and I could feel the big sound of the drums like ‘What is this?'” said Valencia.
That one encounter in Colombia would spark a deep love for Valencia.
“Music is such a strong force. It’s just going to pull you out of whatever you are doing,” said Valencia.
A force so strong it pushed him from Colombia all the way to Fayetteville. He is now a percussion instructor and the director of Latin American music ensemble at the University of Arkansas. Valenica teaches all things percussion. But, there is one drum that he gravitates towards.
“One thing that interested me in hand drumming is how you can get different tones from your hands. For example you put your hand down flat. You get a nice deep tone.” said Valencia.
Valencia says music is about connection.
“One of the beautiful things with music is it’s like building bridges. Music is a bridge to connect communities,” said Valencia.
And he’s doing that here. By bringing Latin American music to the Hispanic population, and Creating a pathway to share the culture with locals.
“Them experiencing live music far away from their countries, the music they are used to, that’s incredible for them,” said Valencia. “Seeing a mix group of students that are local, and Hispanic students getting together and make music, that is also an incredible moment.”
If you want to get the full experience of the Latin American inspired ensemble, a concert will be held November 6 at the Faulkner Performing Arts Center in Fayetteville.