International musicians use recylced materials to make music

Stephanie Cannon Abigail Stuart

      On April 10, Amado Espinoza and Karen Lisondra preformed international musical selections on the Mulvane Art Museum lawn.  The instruments Espinoza and Lisondra used were handmade from recycled materials.

       “He makes instruments out of recycled PVC, rain sticks out of Christmas tubes from wrapping paper,” Lisondra said.  “He’s made a violin out of an oil can, some found food, a fork to hold the strings. You have to have the real strings and a bow, although he can make the bow, but he doesn’t really have very much time to go find a horse to chop off some tail.”

       The event was a precursor to the instrument creation workshop that was held at the Mulvane Art Museum Art Lab from one to three p.m. on April 11.  During the workshop, Espinoza and Lisondra helped students make their own instruments.

        “The museum has brought a lot of, you know, stuff from anything from plastic bottles to tubes to whatever,” Lisondra said.  “From that, we are going to see what we can make.”  Lisondra said that Espinoza and she had brought some materials to make an Indian pan flute, but that they were also going to see what participants brought.

       “It’s kind of to show also that we have resources all around us,” Lisondra said.  “To be a musician, for instance, you don’t have to wait, if you’re a kid, for someone to buy you a violin or something.  You can learn about music through your means.  We know a lot of drummers who took out the pots and pans. I have a friend from India that is now the head of an orchestra that travels internationally, but he started with just two rocks and he just learned the rhythms.  That’s when you know it’s really in your soul, when you can go beyond the barriers. ”

       Espinoza and Lisondra said that their mission is to create connections for people of different cultures through music.

        “The people need to learn different cultures,” Espinoza said.  “So many instruments, like many languages and many cultures, are disappearing.  Our mission is to maintain the life of these cultures.”

       “And basically, to connect to find roots for everybody,” Lisondra added.  “Sometimes if people play just the folk music from their lands, it’s great but sometimes there’s a certain barrier to the public. But if you find a way to create a bridge, which is inclusive and participatory, then it’s like we’re all brothers and sisters.”

       Espinoza, who was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia, began playing instruments when he was nine.  He can play multiple instruments from different countries, such as the sitar, Arabic drums, and charango, a small, Bolivian ten-string guitar.  Espinoza has played a variety of professional music from rock to Latin American fusion.

       Lisondra came from a theatre background.  She preformed with the Argentinian theatre, Fueza Bruta, which is an aerial theatre that preformed on harnesses and in water, and the Bolivian theatre named for Homer’s The Odyssey.  That theatre had a political slant about immigration.

       “We put the show together with the theater company for about a year and a half and then went all around the world doing the show for about three years,” Lisondra said.  “That brought me to Bolivia where I met Amado, in the city of Cochabamba.”

       At the time of their meeting, Lisondra was touring with the theatre company and Espinoza was playing for a Latin American fusion band.  A mutual friend of theirs set up a meeting between the two.

      “I was in his city doing a one-woman theater show and she introduced us and I asked him to do the compositions for my show,” Lisondra explained.  “And he did.  About a year, year and a half later, he proposed, during the intermission of a concert that he had.”

      The couple decided to come to the United States to spend time with Lisondra’s family and “for a change,” according to Lisondra.

      “It’s important to have changes,” Lisondra said.

      For Espinoza and Lisondra, changes are a second nature to them as they change random items into instruments.

      “If you have something really interesting in your garage, and like, well, it needs to live,” Lisondra said.  “It’s just sitting there, but its got potential, got life, so that’s a great way to keep that alive by making it an instrument.

      For more information about Espinoza and Lisondra, please visit