Mariachi Herencia De Mexico
This past weekend my wife and I got to attend a very special event that was being held at a venue near our house. Mariachi Herencia De Mexico was the Friday night performance at the Midland Center for the Arts.
Let me give you a bit of background and then I will dig into the performance....
Midland, MI is a pretty multicultural town for being in the middle of pretty much nowhere Midwest USA. By some coincidence, this area of Michigan was rich in brine deposits and that eventually led to the start of one of the largest chemical corporations in the world. A couple of them actually. Midland, MI is home to Dow Chemical and Dow Corning and more recently Dupont since they all combined under one banner.
What this means is a large number of international travelers visit our city for short business trips, extended assignments, and permanent positions. My guess is given the relatively white collar "cultured" population of the city of Midland, this led to the establishment of the Midland Center for the Arts. Plus a large endowment from the Dow family I am sure. Feel free to visit their site and read up on the history of the building.
Oh, this is the building above by the way. It is pretty cool, they have a three floor museum with all kinds of hands on activities for people of all ages. On the top floor they also have special exhibits like Dinosaurs, Gemstones, one year they flew in a couple of the Terracotta Warriors, stuff like that.
Additionally, they have large theater and a small theater where they hold events like this one.
My wife and I pretty low key, but every now and then we like to feel a bit cultured, so we decided to grab a four pack of tickets that include shows from around the world.
The first of those shows was this Mariachi band.
I love all kinds of music, but my wife was a little skeptical about how this show was going to go. She ended up loving it for a variety of reasons.
Before the show they had a question and answer period with a few members of the band. It was very interesting and informative. We also found out that they did a performance earlier in the day for some of the school kids in the area. Which is very fitting since most of the performers are school kids themselves.
The founder of the group was worried about the present state of Mariachi music. Living in Chicago he wanted to create something that could keep the music and heritage alive and introduce it to a new generation of people. He created a curriculum that is now taught in some of the schools in inner city Chicago that focuses solely on Mariachi music.
So, instead of taking band or choir, you can take Mariachi if you want. As students of the class start to stand out, they are invited to perform as part of the larger group. This group has performed at a wide range of prestigious venues and has even been nominated for a Grammy.
Pretty cool I think.
In the picture above you can see some of the instruments that the performers use. Besides the violin, trumpet and acoustic guitar, they also use the Guitarron which is a large bass guitar, harp, and Vihuela which is a smaller version of the guitarron.
Not to be lost in the shuffle I think it should be noted that these students have amazing voices to. For example, the lady on the far right in the picture above was the standout of the show for me. She had some pipes on her and she could blow (as they say).
I've gotta apologize for the photos, they are going to be quite blurry. Apparently, I am still figuring out how to use this new phone camera. It seems the auto focus has a nasty habit of keying in on things in the foreground instead of what I actually intend to capture a picture of.
They covered a wide range of music including mostly traditional Mexican Mariachi songs. They also threw in some country and bluegrass which was kind of cool.
Most of the talking they did was in Spanish, so my wife and I had a bit of trouble following along. We kind of felt like we were out of the loop for many of the dialogs and jokes, but we didn't mind too much because most people feel that way around Americans a lot of the time. It was good practice to be the minority for a change.
Which reminds me, they actually did start the show mostly speaking English, but once they realized how many members of the audience were of Hispanic or Latin American origin, they mostly spoken in Spanish.
One of the things that my wife and I really loved about the performance was the bands use of what I believe is called a "grito". These screams or whistles are interjected throughout each of the numbers. At first I thought they were timed at specific places, but I have come to learn that these are really just random outbursts or expressions of emotion. Grito's are a deeply cultural thing in Mexico and doing one is almost an artform in itself.
This is the young lady I mentioned in the picture above. I am going to try to include a video at the end of this post where hopefully you will be able to hear for yourself just how amazing she was. There was also a trumpet player who had a pretty magnificent voice too. It kind of came from out of nowhere and we weren't expecting it when he just started belting it out.
I have to admit, I was so impressed by this performance and honestly a little jealous at the same time. Being from the US, I hesitate to say we don't have our own culture, but clearly much of it has been borrowed or integrated over the years from other cultures. Being able to witness Mariachi which is something that Mexicans can call their own and be so connected with is pretty awesome.
I guess the closest thing for us would be Jazz or Blues music maybe. Rock and Roll perhaps. It just doesn't feel the same to me though.
This was awesome, and you should totally check them out if you ever get the chance. It is well worth seeing them live.
Here is a YouTube video of a performance they did at the Kennedy Center (yeah, that Kennedy Center).
I know because of regions and restrictions not all YouTube videos show up here on Hive, so I am also going to include a direct link to the video for you.
I hope you enjoy this performance as much as I did. It was definitely more than I expected going into Friday night. I mean they even had a harp solo, where else can you see that?
I am really hoping this post can get shared with some of the users who are on Hive from Mexico and the surrounding countries so they know just how much I respect and appreciate this awesome piece of their heritage.
I'd be honored and humbled if you cross posted this in any of those communities you feel apply.
All pictures taken by myself or @mrsbozz