Fronteras Extra: Learning To Love Mariachi Music

May 11, 2018

Mariachi Flor de Jalisco
Credit http://www.mariachiflordejalisco.com/

Gino Rivera, director of Mariachi Azteca de America, and Debra Torres, director of the all-female Mariachi Flor de Jalisco, both live and work in San Antonio.

Torres says her love of mariachi music didn’t come right away. She knew she wanted to play classical violin, and her violin teacher encouraged her to join a mariachi group in San Antonio.  


“I couldn’t stand it,” she said. “I think it’s because my mom enjoyed it so much. I was like, ‘No, I don’t want to do this. I don’t like mariachi music.’ Eventually I stopped. I was strictly classical violin.”

But that same music teacher was later responsible for sparking her love of mariachi music.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: “La Voz del Mariachi,” accompanied by Mariachi Azteca de America 

WHERE: Charlene McCombs Empire Theater

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday

“She sang for me at my quinceañera,” said Torres, “and I was like, ‘Mom, I want to do mariachi music now.’ It just hits you at a certain point. Now I can’t imagine myself without mariachi music. I grew to love it so much that I developed my own mariachi group.”

Gino Rivera comes from a mariachi family that goes back three generations. While he loved it from the start, he encountered a few obstacles.

Mariachi Azteca de America
Credit http://aztecadeamerica.weebly.com/

“I didn’t speak Spanish. My mom didn’t speak a lot of Spanish to me,” he said. “I had learned it (by) listening to the music and being around fellow musicians. That was one thing that kept me away.”

Rivera’s introduction to performing on stage was also rough. He was 10 years old and itching to play his cousin’s wedding.

“I want to play ‘Son de la Negra.’ It was the first song I learned on violin. … I prepared, I walked in, (and) played with them. I was on cloud nine. It was awesome,” he said. “I did it.”

But Rivera’s grandfather brought him back down to earth, telling him, “You wanted to play, you play the whole hour. Now I had to play 14 other songs that I had no idea how they went or what I was doing. I had to follow (through),” he said. “And I haven’t stopped since.”

 

Norma Martinez can be reached by email norma@tpr.org and on Twitter @NormDog1