A Night of Mariachi Music

Matthew Vieria / The Collegian Christian Gomez sings during a Mariachi Fresno State practice before 'Noche de Amor' concert for Valentine's Day.

Matthew Vieria / The Collegian
Christian Gomez sings during a Mariachi Fresno State practice before ‘Noche de Amor’ concert for Valentine’s Day.

Mariachi Fresno State will have an hour long performance tonight at 8 p.m. in the Music Building Concert Hall.

The band will showcase a romantically themed concert billed “Noche de Amor,” or “Night of Love,” for Valentine’s Day. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for employees and $5 for seniors and students.

Dr. Donald Henriques, an associate professor of music, is director of Mariachi Fresno State. The ensemble plays traditional and non traditional mariachi love songs for campus and local community events.

Mariachi music consists of string instruments in addition to trumpets and other modern instruments. The band’s members dress in “charro” outfits—traditional Mexican clothing for Mariachi musicians.

Henriques said those who don’t know what mariachi music is should expect a variety of love-themed songs during the group’s performance.

“This concert is focused on the theme of love,” Henriques said. “There’s plenty of that in the mariachi repertoire and there will also be non traditional mariachi. We hope everyone is going to have a good time. ”

One of the non traditional songs will be “Suavemente” or “Smoothly,” a popular Latin Grammy Award nominated song.

Henriques revived Mariachi Fresno State, first started in 1997 by Dr. Manuel Pena, in 2007. The 11-member group is taught by the department of music but is also open to non music majors as well.

“There may be students who have heard of the music but never actually played it,” Henriques said. “It’s open to any student. As long as they play mariachi instruments, they can join.”

The group usually practices Wednesday nights from 6 to 8 p.m. but has rehearsed up to three times a week in preparation for the Valentine’s concert.

Henriques said once the mariachi group started the idea of the Valentine’s concert, students collaborated on what music to prepare for it, unusual from other ensembles.

“There’s a lot of different versions [of music], and we don’t just learn from the page,” Henriques said. “There’s a lot of collaboration that isn’t available in other ensembles.”

Senior Christian Gomez, a music education major, said that he always wanted to try mariachi music and decided to join the group because he always wanted to, but never had the chance to do so in his native Los Angeles.

“I’ve always wanted to be mariachi but never had the opportunity because it’s hard to break into it because there’s lots of groups in Los Angeles,” Gomez said.

When Gomez initially heard of the mariachi group, he wanted to join as a trumpet player and also perform as a lead vocalist.

“I had never sang in public before, so it was nice to be able to get that chance here, because I don’t think I would have had a chance anywhere else,” Gomez said.

Freshman Stephanie Escamilla, a music education major, said her violin skills were put to the test when she recently became the only violinist in the ensemble.

“These past two semesters made me practice a lot more,” Escamilla said. “I had to get all of my parts down since no one can back mine up, and so I had to really step up my game.”

The group hopes to expand awareness on campus through concerts and will be playing during significant Latino culture events such as Cesar Chavez Day and Cinco de Mayo.

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