The 17th Annual Mariachi and Folklorico Festival had a concert, held by C.A.L.L.E. de Arizona on Oct. 1 at the Chandler Center for the Arts. It was the culmination of three days of workshops teaching the mariachi style, that began on Sept. 28, with those interested in performing given the chance to do so in front of a live audience. “It’s purpose is to offer mariachi workshops for students around the Valley,” said Director of Musical Workshops Carlos Castañeda. “This year we had two different levels. Level one had easier music, for students who are barely learning how to play.” The students were instructed by Mariachi Sonido de Mexico in the workshops. “They are from Tuscon,” said Director of Public Relations Adriana Renteria. “We had local teachers, but mainly it was Sonido de Mexico, and they were under the direction of Carlos Castañeda.”
Songs selected to be performed allowed students to try their hand at different styles of mariachi music.
“Most of the songs are standard from the mariachi repertoire. They also have an opportunity to sing,” Castañeda said. “For the main concert, the level one played only two songs. The played a bolero style song, and a ranchera style.” Castañeda said the level 2 students had more challenging music, and played additional songs in the final concert, although they also played the two that the level one students performed. The workshops drew a number of people of all ages looking to learn from the professional tutors. “This year we had more than 150 mariachi students, ranging from 5 years old all the way up to 65 years old,” Castañeda said.
The two levels of students not only performed with each other, but were given a chance to perform in the concert with a well-known mariachi group, Los Camperos de Nati Cano. “It is a great experience for the students, being able to play in front of people, in a very nice venue,” Castañeda said. Being grateful to the Mexican tradition, and educating those that might not be aware of mariachi are two reasons Renteria gave for why the festival was a great event. “The Mexican American kids don’t know much about the mariachi,” Renteria said. Instruments not often used to play mariachi music like flutes and cellos were an element of the festival that stuck with Castañeda, which he said are very rare to see. “You have to write to them, and for the range they play,” Castañeda said.
The event is funded by local businesses, and C.A.L.L.E. de Arizona will be relying on such funds in order to hold the event in the future as well. “We hope that we can have enough support from the local businesses, so that we can do it again next year,” Renteria said. The goal for next year is to increase the number of attendees that want to learn. “Every year we are just trying to get more young people in the workshops,” Renteria said. For those that are looking to find out more about next year’s event, one should keep an eye the website www.calle-az.org.“We usually don’t start updating it until three months before the event,” Castañeda said. “Even if they don’t want to visit the workshops, they can visit the website for concert information.”