I Hear a Mariachi Symphony

Symphonic boom breaks cultural sound barriers at Mariachi Heritage Society benefit concert, April 1

By Marco de la Paz
Published on LatinoLA: March 28, 2006

I Hear a Mariachi Symphony

Maestro Jose Hernandez has been hearing it for years. More to the point, he has been creating it for years.

And you can ? should ? hear it too. On April 1, 2006, Hernandez leads his internationally renowned Mariachi Sol de Mexico in a unique concert fundraiser titled ?Mariachi Sinfonico? at the San Gabriel Civic Auditorium for the Mariachi Heritage Society, a music education program for elementary-aged kids.

The concert, which also celebrates the 25th year of Hernandez? Mariachi Sol de Mexico troupe, will show just how innovative traditional music can be in the hands of a master. It should not be a surprise: Hernandez has played for the President of the United States, music stars of all genres, written for films and television, and been called a ?Virtuoso Mariachi? by Jeff Nevin, whose doctorate in music education centered on the 200 years of mariachi tradition.

Sol de Mexico has performed with the orchestras of New Mexico, Denver, Sacramento, San Francisco, the Inland Empire Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. It could have been yesterday, but it was 11 years ago, when Hernandez answered Bay Area media that about the ramifications of being the first U.S. group to mix mariachi with symphonies. "Once in a while, we might get criticism from traditionalists, but I believe mariachi should continue to grow and educate."

Which is exactly the point of the fundraiser. The Mariachi Heritage Society provides music education to a segment of society that needs it desperately when you consider the disparity of education outcomes mirrors health disparities. Music education is an opportunity for kids to create success for life. Study after study has shown the remarkable benefits of music education. The National Association for Music Education reports that the benefits of music education can be grouped in four categories: Success in society, school, mental development and life.

What have various studies found? Check out a sampling:
? Music training is far superior to computer instruction in dramatically enhancing children's abstract reasoning skills, the skills necessary for learning math and science. (Neurological Research)
? Music students receive significantly more academic honors and awards than non-music students. (National Center for Education Statistics)
? Students who participated in arts programs in selected elementary and middle schools in New York City showed significant increases in self-esteem and thinking skills. (National Arts Education Research Center)

Just imagine what the Mariachi Heritage Society will do for these kids, who have the advantage of bicultural and bilingual settings for this tradition-steeped art. Over 7,000 children have participated in the Heritage Society?s programs since its creation in 1991. As has been pointed out by Hernandez, few public schools can offer the individual music instruction that the Heritage Society offers, and the cost of private instruction is often beyond the means of low-income families.

Plus, the Mariachi Heritage Society gives boys and girls the experience and the opportunity to play on stage with world-renown talent at the concert for the 15th consecutive year. Along with Hernandez? Sol de Mexico, the young Mariachi Heritage Society members will be joined by Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles, the first all-female mariachi troupe in the United States.

While much of Corporate America pays lip service to education and children?s programs, but the sponsors and partners of Mariachi Heritage Society are to be commended and deserve support because they give to this program because of what it is and the chance to help it grow (rather than trying to quantify/put a monetary value on children?s impact on their market). The sponsors of the 2006 Mariachi Heritage Society Concert are: Blue Cross, Tapatio, The Walt Disney Company, Goya, Guerrero, Savon, Mattel, Wells Fargo, Bridgecraft, Arrowhead Water, Redlands Clay Tile, CHC Enterprises, California Clay Tile, the LA County Fine Arts Commission and Starbucks of Alhambra (Main & 1st Street). LatinoLA is proud to be a media partner as well as Univision 34 / KMEX, Comcast cable, Univision Radio, Hoy and La Opinion newspapers.

Those who would like to support the Mariachi Heritage Society by attending the concert can call 626.279.2064 for tickets or buy online at www.mariachi-sol.com/tourschedule.htm. For event sponsorship inquiries, contact Latino Consultants at 323.344.8080.

About Marco de la Paz:
Marco de la Paz is a free-lance writer from the in the San Gabriel Valley.

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