By Chanel Ward
The Fourth Annual Viva Southwest Mariachi Festival, presented by Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU), set to takeover the King Center at the Auraria campus Saturday, February 15th and tickets are going fast.
The all-day event, beginning at 8am, includes various workshops taught by master mariachi educators and performers all throughout the day up until 4:30pm. There will also be special guest performances by the student mariachi groups for the Evenings Concert Showcase set to begin at 7pm.
Dr. Lorenzo Trujillo, music professor at MSU, Director of the Viva Mariachi Festival and Faculty Advisor/Director of Mariachi los Correcaminos student group said, “For the workshops, we’re bringing in premiere mariachi teachers from throughout the United States to teach – and many of them Grammy-Award winning recording artists – as well as the very first woman mariachi to play professionally in the United States; Rebecca Gonzáles out of Los Angeles.”
And if that weren’t impressive enough, Dr. Trujillo also announced another professional female mariachi artist and professor visiting from out of Texas, Monica Fogelquist.
“Her father, Mark Fogelquist was the first one to codify mariachi music back in the early 70’s,” said Dr. Trujillo, “it was his [Fogelquist] Masters’ thesis out of UCLA.” He added.
The Weekly Issue/El Semanario interviewed two members of Los Correcaminos mariachi band, Alejandra Solis and Travis Richard Jensen, in addition to Dr. Trujillo and was granted a behind the scenes look at both the upcoming concert and recital halls.
Jensen, a double music major in music composition and jazz guitar performance had his very first introduction to mariachi music and would be one that would change the course of his path, and this to his jazz professors surprise. “It was fall of 2015 and I was just curious about the music I heard,” said Jensen. “I heard that they were starting a mariachi class, so just out of pure curiosity I started going and I just kind of fell in love with the music, I got hooked right away.”
After graduating this last December, Jensen had to pass the torch of president of Los Correcaminos to band mate and lead singer -Alejandra Solis. Jensen has been involved with the festival since the very beginning and is allowed to continue playing as alum.
“I feel like it’s really hard to be in a rotten mood when you play this kind of music,” Jensen explained through a slight laugh and faint smile. “There’s so much passion and romance, there’s so much life in it and I just love it, it’s perfect.”
Solis, the new president of Mariachi los Correcaminos, violinist and lead vocalist is an accounting major in her senior year and is set to graduate this May. She loves mariachi music so much so that she has chosen to spend her free time perfecting her craft. “Trying to take this beyond the university level has been a lot of hard work and it really is like a second job, but the rewards are so much better than any job can give you,” expressed Solis.
“I actually started out in orchestra and when I came back to college, I took a break from playing violin for so long that I was like, you know what? I want to get back into something different. I didn’t want to do orchestra because it was a big-time commitment so, no se pudo. But by accident one day, the girl who was singing ‘Volver Volver’ got sick and so I had to sing her part in class and from there it just blossomed,” said Solis, who didn’t know that she could sing like that until hitting the notes that day three years ago.
“I feel like it’s really hard to be in a rotten mood when you play this kind of music. There’s so much passion and romance, there’s so much life in it and I just love it, it’s perfect.”
Travis Richard Jensen, Mariachi
Both Jensen and Solis are set to perform with Dr. Trujillo as well as Mariachi Sol de Mi Tierra who will also perform at the showcase. The event is presented by Metropolitan State University of Denver and the Latino Cultural Arts Center.
Registration for the workshops and tickets for the Evening Concert Showcase are limited and filling fast, but there is still time to get in on the festivities. You can register for the workshops or purchase tickets at msudenver.edu/music/events/ or call the box office at 303-556-2296 where student, military and senior discounts are available.
Chanel Ward is an Independent Reporter for The Weekly Issue/El Semanario.
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