Mariachi Annual Fall Concert to Raise Funds for Trip to Russia
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – NOVEMBER 7, 2012 –
Students in the Mariachi Ensemble
have received an invitation to perform in Russia next May.
The mariachi group has been invited by Herzen State Pedagogical University in St. Petersburg, Russia, to perform at the university and civic venues from May 15–22, 2013.
“This is an incredible opportunity for our mariachi student musicians, really a trip-of-a-lifetime,” said Antonio Briseño, Associate Professor of Music and Director of the Mariachi Ensemble. “They are all excited at the prospect; I can see it in their rehearsals.”
To raise funds for the trip, the Mariachi Ensemble will presents its annual fall concert at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 19 in The Arts Center.
“Every year, we hold our fall concert during the week before Thanksgiving and dedicate it to St. Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians, whose feast day this year falls on Thanksgiving Day,” Briseño said. “As always, this concert is a fundraiser for the Mariachi Club, and this year it will take on extra vitality because the musicians will be working toward covering their expenses for the Russia trip.”
In preparation for the concert, the 15-person band has been rehearsing a vast selection of songs that range from the late 19th century to new non-traditional favorites.
The evening will begin with a Mexican Revolution piece, “Fiesta en Jalisco,” followed by “La Bikina,” a modern piece written by Ruben Fuentes, considered the “dean” of mariachis.
Several “sones” are in the program, ranging from the late 19th century “El Gusto,” the early 20th century “Sufriendo a Solas” and the 1950s-era “Serenata Huasteca” to modern-day “Mi Novia Guadalajara” made famous by Mariachi Vargas.
The bolero selections include “Cenizas,” “Cuando Calienta el Sol” and “Sombras Nada Más,” all from around the mid-20th century.
Briseño said the “bolero” is a ballad, a love song that originated in Spain and was taken to Cuba, then made its way to Mexico. “Sones” were originally accompaniment to dancers, to be played at fandangos.
“Mariachi music is diverse and has a rich heritage,” Briseño said.
Junior music education major Victor Flores, a member of the Mariachi Ensemble who plays violin, said mariachi music is entertaining for the musicians as well as for the audience. Flores thinks Russian audiences will embrace mariachi music.
“Every performance is different; we adjust for the audience,” Flores said. “There’s always a bit of excitement for the unknown when we take the stage; we know we want to give a good show, and we determine the feel of the audience, and we deliver accordingly – serious, nostalgic or just outright fun. That's what makes the mariachi ensemble dynamic and versatile.”
Over the last two years, Dr. Sue Zanne Urbis, Chair of the Music Department, Richard Urbis, Professor of Piano, and Dr. Alla Paroiatnikova, Executive Director of the Office of Global Engagement, have been building a relationship with Herzen State Pedagogical University in St. Petersburg. Founded in 1797, Herzen University is considered one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Russia.
“This invitation by Herzen State Pedagogical University to the Mariachi Ensemble indicates the administration at the university is serious about creating a bridge between our schools,” Dr. Sue Zanne Urbis said. “Both have so much to give and so much to learn from one another.”
Briseño said the musicians of the mariachi group consider their performances to be gifts to the community. The group will play from 10:30-11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at the H-E-B Feast of Sharing to be held at the Jacob Brown Memorial Center.
Presale tickets for the Monday, Nov. 19 concert are $7; they can be bought until 5 p.m. of that day at The Arts Center box office. Tickets at the door on the evening of the performance are $10.
“All proceeds from the concert will go toward the Russia trip,” Briseño said. “We would also be grateful if individuals and businesses would consider making a special donation; it would be very much appreciated.”