The ensemble will perform at their last spring concert inside Phillips Hall Theatre Friday, May 24./ Nikki Nelsen/ el Don
Experience traditional Mexican music with a mix of tunes from different regions of the country when Santa Ana College’s mariachi band performs on campus Friday. The students of Don Mariachi, one of only a few community college mariachi ensembles in the country, will perform ‘Music From Mexico’ inside Phillips Hall Theatre.
Don Mariachi has captivated audiences for the last few decades by continuing to provide a piece of Mexican culture passed down almost 90 years ago.
Modern mariachi music came from Jalisco, Mexico in the 19th century and became popular in the 1930s when radio stations and movie studios brought the music to new audiences. A traditional mariachi band features violins, guitars, trumpets, bass guitar and a variety of singers. The genre is responsible for many cult classics, including “La Bamba” and “Cielito Lindo.”
Don Mariachi was formed in 1993 by a few students who were interested in playing mariachi music. These students approached David Lopez, then a music professor, with the idea about a year after he began working at SAC.
Lopez insisted to SAC administrators that the school should have its very own mariachi band. A short time later, Don Mariachi was officially established as one of the music department’s ensembles on campus.
Ernesto Viramontes, one of Lopez’s first mariachi students is now a music professor at SAC and the new director of Don Mariachi. Viramontes appreciated mariachi so much that he came back to teach in the program.
Viramontes believes the band has become a little family that has bonded over music and feels that the group supports one another to keep the music flowing.
“The band works well with each other. When one musician misses a note or gets out of sync, the other musicians do a good job of continuing the beat and not letting it ruin their flow and rhythm,” Viramontes said.
Even though mariachi music was created in Mexico, not all members of the Don Mariachi are of Mexican descent. According to Viramontes, the group has members who are from other countries. In previous years the group had white, black and Asian students in the ensemble as well.
“It’s nice to see young adults keeping our people’s music alive because I won’t be doing this forever so yeah it is nice to see and hear our music being played by younger generations,” said Hector Durantes, a singer in one of Santa Ana’s professional mariachi bands.
“Music From Mexico” will take place Friday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the event cost $10 for general admission, $7 for students, and $5 for children. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door the day of the show.