To celebrate the holiday season, the CSUN Educational Opportunity Program organized a musical event called Fiesta Navidad, which explored the diversity of Mexican musical and dance culture. The event featured two musical groups brought from Mexico, Trio Tradicion Mexicana and Orquesta Marimba Hermanos Aquino, as well as Conjuto Hueyapan, Mariachi Estrella de Jalisco, Pacifico Dance Company and singer Ixya Herrera.
Grupo Tradicion Mexicana began the show with a Popurri Mexicano, a mixture of traditional Mexican revolutionary songs. The groups used a variety of instruments such as the guitar, and an instrument called salterio (psaltery), which is a four-sided string instrument with a flat soundboard and bottom that is played by plucking the strings.
Conjunto Hueyapan, is a family group and CSUN Chicano/a studies professor Fermin Herrera is its founder and a member. The family not only performs Sones Jarochos, but it has also done extensive research that resulted in documentation and preservation of this particular type of music in the region of Veracruz. The group has performed throughout Mexico and Europe.
Marimba Hermanos Aquino was the third performance along with the Pacifico Dance Company.
Marimba Hermanos was founded in 1930 in Chiapas Mexico and they have performed all over the world.
A marimba is an instrument resembling a xylophone. It could be compared to a piano but instead of using one’s fingers to play, mallets are used.
Marimba is played in Veracruz, Oaxaca and Tabasco.
Ixya Herrera, who also graduated from CSUN, has shared the stage with singer Linda Ronstadt.
Herrera has recorded three albums and has performed at Lincoln Center in New York, Televisa foro 2 in Mexico City and UCLA’s Royce Hall, among many others.
“The dancing took me back in time,” Daisy Vasquez said.
Vasquez, a business administration major, said that looking at the dancers and listening to the songs brought back memories of elementary school when she had danced to many of the songs she heard at the performances.
Zenaida Mendoza, a San Fernando resident, brought her entire family to the event.
“It’s great to see the Latino contribution to the American culture,” said Mendoza, who said she believes that it is very important to show the role that music plays in the Mexican culture as well as the preservation of it in the United States.
She said she heard the announcement of the event on Channel 22 and immediately went to the CSUN Web site for more information.
Mendoza loved the performances but disliked the scenery. “It looked like a winery instead of a Mexican hacienda,” she said, adding that images of Mexico would have been more appropriate to the performance.
John Faber, history major, said that seeing the dancing while knowing the background from his class helped him have a better understanding of the culture.
“I was paying attention and I was surprised (that) I knew the complete routine of the dance,” Faber said.
The Plaza del Sol Performance Hall was almost full. Very few students attended the event, though.
EOP Director Jos? Luis Vargas said that the event ran smoothly despite the short notice to organize it.