By Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media. (See videos and two photo galleries below)
It was a sold out affair as hundreds of mariachi music lovers came out for the 2020 Viva Southwest Mariachi Festival Workshop & Showcase on Saturday, February 15, 2020, at the King Center Concert Hall on the Auraria Campus in Denver. Latin Life Denver was a proud Media Sponsor.
Organized by Dr.Lorenzo Trujillo along with Metropolitan State University of Denver Department of Music and the Latino Cultural Arts Center of Colorado the event brought together student and professional mariachi music professionals. A Diploma of Honor was presented to the Honorable Consul General of Mexico in Denver LIC Berenice Rendon Talavera
The event provided workshops for students of all ages; including those in elementary, middle, and high school, as well as university and community participants from Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, and Wyoming. Throughout the day, students are taught by professional and award-winning masters of mariachi in music, song, and instrumentation (trumpet, violin, vihuela, guitarron, voice), and ensemble performance. The day culminated in a spectacular Mariachi Concert showcase featuring over 200 students in their respective performance groups. This is the fourth year the festival has played to sold-out audiences.
Mariachi is an essential part of the mosaic of American identity. It unites all people in a fiesta of sound that excites both listeners and participants. Attendees gain an appreciation of the richness of the Mexican culture and an understanding of history through music. Musicians and singers gain a sense of enjoyment by learning about the vast repertoire of compositions with lyrics that tell a story of life, love, challenges, and historical figures. Mariachi is a unique musical genre because of the instrumentation; guitarrón and vihuela that are only played in mariachi. Highlighted themes include love, betrayal, death, politics, heroes and can be performed anywhere and anytime and is not limited to stages. Methods and styles include Son Jalisciense, Bolero, Huapango, Ranchera, Corrido and Waltz. Performers wear traditional Mariachi clothing known as traje, as they honor their past and celebrate the present.
This unique opportunity to showcase Mariachi regionally empowers the youth to continue their professional careers as Mariachi musicians and instructors. Sessions range from beginner, intermediate and advanced skill levels. Recording artists, composers, and arrangers who will teach the classes include:
Dr. Jeff Nevin, an award winning composer and author of Mariachi Mastery, a series of educational materials for educators and students. His mariachi, Mariachi Champaña de Jeff Nevin, have traveled internationally for the U.S. Department of State; Chuy Hernández of the Grammy Nominated Mariachi Sol de México from Los Angeles, California; John Contreras from the national award-winning Mariachi Aztlán of Pueblo High School and former member of the Changuitos Feos (who later became the Disney Mariachi Cobre) and Mariachi Tlaquepaque from Tucson, Arizona; Rebecca Gonzales from the Mariachi Tesoro in Los Angeles and the First Professional Female Mariachi in America and former member of the Grammy award winning Mariachi los Camperos; Members of the Mariachi Sol de Mi Tierra of Juventino Romero; and Dr. Lorenzo A. Trujillo, Director and Professor of the Mariachi los Correcaminos de MSU Denver.
The lead sponsor is the Latino Cultural Arts Center of Colorado with sponsors: Entravision, World Wide Money Exchange and Vela Insurance Agency. The sponsors make it possible for low cost registrations and concert fees.
Adrianna Abarca, Founder and Board Chair of the Latino Cultural Arts Center (LCAC) told Latin Life Denver it is the goal of LCAC to work closely with the three universities at the Auraria Campus. Abarca said it is also the intention of LCAC to have a presence throughout the southwest U.S. stating that “the Viva Southwest Mariachi Festival provides an opportunity to ally with like minded folks throughout the southwest and create those partnerships so that they can feel welcome at anytime they want to come to Denver and likewise for us to go visit their programs and learn from what they’re doing.”
LCAC Project Director Alfredo Reyes said the vision of LCAC is “not to treat music and dance independent from the visual arts but rather find a way to integrate it with art, history and culture”. Reyes spent four months prior to the event lending technical expertise and doing a variety of other tasks making sure the event was a success not just in terms of ticket sales but also an effective learning experience for the students. “This event is extremely important for our youth so that they can not only learn from the best maestros (teachers) in the country but can also see themselves as working professionals later in their careers,” said Reyes adding, “This event also allows students to be surrounded by students who are just as passionate as they are and thereby start building that community that will support them throughout their careers.”
Getting Ready! 8 hours of Rehearsals…Photos by Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media