VPAC: An evening with the sounds of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán

Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán performed in front of a large audience at the Valley Performing Arts Center Thursday, Dec. 3. Photo Courtesy of The VPAC

Silver embellishments of traditional Mexican attire glistened on the stage Thursday, Dec. 3 as Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán showed a large audience at the Valley Performing Arts Center why they’re known as “the best mariachi in the world.”

The 14 member mariachi orchestra played instruments from seven violins, one harp, three trumpets, a guitar, a guitarrón which is a six-string bass instrument similar to the guitar, and a vihuela, which consists of five strings that is also similar to the guitar.

The mariachi orchestra filled the stage for the third annual event, wearing their trajes de charro, which are extravagant traditional suits from Mexico. Their waist-length jackets and pants were adorned with detailed silver embroidery. Even their shoes contributed to their performance, as they used the heels during some footwork which is known as the zapateado. They tapped their heels to the rhythm as they played their instruments.

“I was most impressed with the instrumental solos, especially by the harp. The way it was played was my favorite part of the night. It has such a delicate sound that I could just listen to all day,” said Maria Lopez, a Northridge resident and a 2010 graduate from CSUN.

Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán was founded in 1897 in a small city in Mexico named Tecalitlán. Over time and now five generations later, they have made a name for themselves as well as being credited for modernizing the genre of mariachi music. Their most notable work comes from having worked with Linda Ronstadt, a Grammy award winning singer. They were featured on her popular “Canciones de mi Padre” album which led to vast exposure of the mariachi orchestra’s music to audiences outside of Mexico.

They performed various songs during Thursday’s show, many which featured lyrics about love, infidelity and their love for Mexico. There were many times where a member of Mariachi Vargas would ask for the audience’s help with singing All of their songs were sung in Spanish but it wasn’t necessary for those in the audience to know the language to be able to enjoy the show.

“I don’t speak any Spanish at all, but I could feel the emotion through the way they played the instruments. I felt that I could tell if the song was about being in love or about being angry,” said William Howard, 21, a liberal studies major at CSUN who attended the show in order to receive extra credit for a class, but took so much more away from it. “I’ll be back next year.”

There were songs performed that were from their newest album “16 Razones Para Cortarse las Venas” which in English means “16 reasons to cut your veins.” The title sounds concerning, but it’s meant to show how love can often times make one feel various extreme emotions.

The album was available for sale there at the event and many people lined up after the show to buy it and be able to take a little piece of Mexico home with them.