Xochimoki is a unique musical duo devoted to the revival of ancient arts and knowledge through contemporary creative expression. It was founded by Jim Berenholtz of North America and Mazatl Galindo of Mexico in 1984 with the specific focus of making original music using the pre-Columbian instruments of the Aztec, Maya and other Mesoamerican civilizations. Since that time Xochimoki has brought the sounds of these nearly forgotten musical instruments to many millions of people throughout the world.
The name “Xochimoki” is derived from the Nahuatl and Hopi languages, and translates as “Flower of the Ancient Ones”. It symbolizes Mazatl and Jim’s intention to reactivate cultural and spiritual sharing between the peoples of North and South, especially North and Latin Americans, indigenous and non-indigenous. This is demonstrated by the fact that Mazatl and Jim come from precisely such distinct backgrounds, yet work and perform harmoniously together. Indeed, while Mazatl and Jim are different from each other in many ways, they also share a tremendous amount in common. Aside from being world musicians, they are both accomplished painters, dancers, writers, lecturers and ceremonialists.
That being said, Xochimoki is still best known for their concerts where they perform with over one hundred ancient wind and percussion instruments. In these shows they attire themselves with very colorful, traditional native garments, feathers, shells, etc., and often also include body paint, masks, dance, slide projections and incense. The total effect is a multi-media feast for the senses.
Xochimoki has been seen at major museums, universities, theatres, cultural centers, and Indian reservations throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, receiving both critical and popular acclaim. They have also appeared at venues in Central and South America, Europe, Africa and Polynesia. Performances and interviews about their music have been aired on major network and public television, including the CBS Sunday Morning Show with Charles Kurault. And they’ve been the subject of numerous radio specials with such reknowned hosts as Studs Terkel.
In addition to their numerous audio recordings, Xochimoki has produced soundtracks for many museum exhibitions, including for Mexico City’s famous Museum of Anthropology and History, the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, as well as for the largest touring exhibit of Mayan art ever assembled, “MAYA: Treasures of an Ancient Civilization”, which premiered at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Xochimoki has also created numerous soundtracks for films and documentaries that have been aired on PBS, HBO, etc. And they’ve created the music for many theatre and dance productions, most recently the “Temple of the Cosmic Serpent” which premiered in Hollywood in 2003.
Since 1991 Xochimoki has had a very special association with the Los Angeles Music Center as ethnomusicologists and world musicians. For seven years they were one the center’s most popular touring groups, performing two distinct shows for school children, “Journey through the Americas” and “Sounds of the Rainforest”. These shows, which were often done bilingually (English/Spanish), were performed to the delight of hundreds of thousands of young people throughout Southern California. For many years Xochimoki also performed programs in the schools through the Orange County Performing Arts Center.
After a hiatus of seven years, Xochimoki is back with the Los Angeles Music Center on Tour program with a new show on the music of indigenous people. This show is performed with a wide array of exotic wind and percussion instruments from around the world, including turtle shell drums, conch shell trumpets, intricately carved and painted log drums, ceramic ocarinas, panpipes, and giant bamboo flutes. The instruments come from regions as diverse as the Alaskan tundra, the Amazon rainforest, the African savannah, the Himalayas of Tibet, and the jungles of New Guinea. Kicking off Xochimoki’s return in spring, 2004 was their appearance at the Music Center’s brand new, architecturally and acoustically phenomenal Walt Disney Concert Hall in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Xochimoki had the distinguished honor of being among the first group of world musicians to ever perform on that stage.
While much of Xochimoki’s educational outreach has been focused with children, they also give classes, workshops and special guided tours for adults. In this way they educate the public about the sources of inspiration for their creative work. They teach about the art, architecture, astronomy, mathematics, philosophy, cosmology and ceremony of ancient civilizations, especially of the Americas. These teachings illustrate the cultural and spiritual context from which indigenous music and dance are born, so that people can understand the interconnectedness of the native ways of life, and the foundations of these lifestyles in nature.
Since its inception, Xochimoki has been a member group of Southwest Learning Centers, Inc., a non-profit educational organization based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Southwest Learning Centers, through its many programs, classes, conferences and special events, is dedicated to the preservation of native traditions and environmental integrity. (*Nondiscriminatory Policy - Southwest Learning Centers does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin in the administration of its programs).
Xochimoki is continually studying and researching as their travels take them to new places. This process contributes to their collection of many hundreds of musical instruments, field recordings, and a slide library of all the major and many less well known archaeological sites in the American Hemisphere, as well as other archaeological sites throughout the world. It also inspires the ever-growing list of recordings that Jim and Mazatl have produced, both individually and together.
Xochimoki invites you to experience the beauty and wisdom of ancient and native cultures with open ears, mind and heart. Enter the world of Xochimoki, and awaken your memory to the future.