Second annual fest brings music and education to Salinas.
Thursday, October 1, 1998
For the second annual Salinas Valley International Mariachi Festival, organizers from the Alisal Merchants Association have lucked out to get Mariachi Vargas, a 100-year-old band that is considered the "best in the world" and Mariachi Cobre, who''ve played at Epcot Center and Disney World in Florida for 16 years.
Joe Amaro, the conference planning director for the Alisal Merchants Association, is excited to present mariachi workshops, concerts, and ballet folklorico events at the festival this year. "The workshops are not just for mariachi, but music education in general. In the Hispanic community, it''s hard to relate to other music, like jazz, so we try to bring in musicians like Mariachi Cobre to get kids and people interested. Mariachi Cobre are also educators, they''re from the U.S., so they''re sort of role models to the kids, they demonstrate that you can become successful."
Success is not a problem for Mariachi Vargas, who hail from Jalisco, Mexico, and who are playing in Salinas for the first time. "In mariachi, it all starts and ends with this band," says Amaro. They will be a highlight at Sunday''s tardeada (afternoon concert), along with Mariachi Reyna, the first all-female mariachi band from the U.S. and Aida Cuevas, a well-known singing star from Mexico City.
The mariachi and dance workshops are scheduled for today and Friday at CSU Monterey Bay and Hartnell College. On Friday night is the showcase for workshop participants to demonstrate their skills, along with smaller local groups. Saturday night begins the main concerts, with Mariachi Cobre joining forces with the Monterey Symphony in a Concierto de Gala.
"Enrique Barrios, who is a conductor finalist for the Monterey Symphony, is conducting the concierto," says Amaro. "Plus, we''ll have a surprise guest." The symphony and Mariachi Cobre will play in a cabaret pops format, with a dinner included with table seats, or general balcony seating in Sherwood Hall. Some of the selections include the national anthems of Mexico and the United States, Brahms'' "Hungarian Dance No. 5," and traditional mariachi songs. Barrios and the symphony also play a free concert at Quail Lodge on Sunday afternoon.
Sunday is the final day of the mariachi weekend with a mass in the morning, followed by a fiesta in Sherwood Park. "The fiesta is really a warm-up to the mariachi tardeada," says Amaro. "There''ll be strolling mariachis, food, and crafts through the park."
The much-anticipated tardeada features the two main groups, plus newcomers from California and Mexico. The entertaining Mariachi Los Toritos come from Guadalajara (the birthplace of mariachi music), and Mariachi Este Es Mi Mexico "are great young players from Los Angeles who are playing their first major concert in Salinas," says Amaro.
"It''s just satisfying to know that other community groups have been interested to encourage mariachi and dance arts," he says. "It should be a good festival."
Thursday and Friday, 9am-4pm, $40/day (some scholarships available).
Friday 8pm. Workshop showcase. Sherwood Hall. $5-10.
Saturday 5:30pm. Reception, silent auction, dinner. Sherwood Hall.
8pm. Concierto with Mariachi Cobre and Monterey Symphony. Sherwood Hall. $25-35.
Sunday 10am. Mariachi Mass with Mariachi Los Toritos, Sherwood Hall. Free.
11am. Fiesta del Mariachi, with local and regional Mariachi groups. Sherwood Park. Free.
2pm. Mariachi Tardeada, with Mariachi Este Es Mi Mexico, Mariachi Reyna, Aida Cuevas, Mariachi Cobre and Mariachi Vargas de Tecatitlan. Salinas Sports Complex. $20-45.
For more info: 758-7396.