This year, Radio Bilingüe and the Alliance for California Traditional Arts partnered to organize the 28th annual ¡Viva el Mariachi! Festival Workshops. More than 350 mariachi students from throughout California traveled to the city of Selma on Saturday, March 5, 2011, to learn, share, and enjoy mariachi music.
Children, youth, and adults came together to learn new skills and techniques from Nati Cano and his Mariachi Los Camperos. Mariachi Los Camperos has received national acclaim for the quality of their music, performing throughout the United States and Canada. They have accompanied many famous vocalists, including Linda Ronstadt. Nati Cano of Los Camperos is a third-generation musician and a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow who has worked to promote and preserve the cultural traditions of mariachi music for more than 40 years. He has taught Radio Bilingüe’s ¡Viva el Mariachi! Workshops for more than a decade, inspiring youth and adults to keep this cultural tradition alive.
In addition to learning from this renowned mariachi ensemble, this year’s participants also had the opportunity to meet a new generation of musicians, Los Tesoros de San Fernando and Mariachi Chula Vista. Both groups are composed of youth who, despite their young age, have achieved a great level of proficiency in the mariachi music, under the direction of their respective directors, Jesus “Chuy” Guzman and Mark Fogelquist.
Like in previous years, participants were instructed at their level including beginning, intermediate and advanced. To offer high quality instruction, beginning students received instruction by instruments for at least half of the day, then practiced as an ensemble under the direction of professor Juan Morales, a former member of Mariachi Los Camperos and Mariachi Sol de México and a well-known music teacher in the Central Valley.
It is important to highlight that the ¡Viva el Mariachi! Festival Workshops are one of the first to be organized in the state of California and are still considered among the best state-wide. As one observer, Araceli Varela of Hayward expressed: “It was by far, one of the most enriching experiences my husband and daughter have shared and I’m sure the memories will be everlasting.”