By Mariana Gutierrez
For the first time in 20 years, the Mariachi Club held their debut Dia de los Muertos concert which left the audience reminiscing on memories of their loved ones.
What once was offered as an unofficial course at East Los Angeles College, the Mariachi Club shortly diminished.
The club’s president Alondra Reyes, is a proud Mexican- American student who has a passion for Spanish music and instruments.
Reyes took her passion and went above and beyond to resurface the once beloved Mariachi Club with the help of their band advisor, Jesus Martinez, also known as Professor Chuy.
“I see people passionate along with us and that proves that this culture and this music is extremely important to provide a safe space for our Mexican community, and anyone else who wants to learn,” Reyes said.
The club has been practicing since spring of last year.
Members of the club are either current students or alumni and range from experienced to beginner musicians.
All were brought together by their passion for representing their culture.
The purpose of this club is not just to play Latin music, but to spread education about mariachis and Mexican culture as a whole.
Concerts are held to bring awareness to the club, whose ultimate goal is to add mariachi education to the curriculum.
Reyes and her members believe students deserve an in-depth educational course.
The concert was held not only for practice, but also to fundraise for the club. Mariachi outfits are called trajes and those who have been part of a mariachi before wore them. First time mariachi members didn’t have trajes to wear due to low funds.
Donations are accepted either by buying tickets or directly through their PayPal.
Mariachi music is one of the main types of music in Mexico.
The mariachi club has 10 members who all play traditional instruments.
Aurelio Reyes who is also the father of Alondra Reyes, and Brandon Felix play the guitar.
There were two “guitarrons” which means bass players, Gerardo Gurrola and Sally Hawkridge. “Vihuelas,” which are similar to guitars but strung and tuned differently, are played Elisha Navarez and Alondra Reyes.
The different types of guitars are crucial, and the musicians had a chance to showcase their skills.
The accordion player was Martin Rivera. The trumpet player was Gonzo Islas, and the two complemented each other nicely.
Lupe Fuentes played the violin. Yaya, who refers to herself as the “The Makeup Mariachi” also played the violin while she represented the authentic day of the dead skull makeup.
The two worked well together and had noticeable chemistry on stage.
Dia de los Muertos is a holiday in which Mexicans believe their deceased loved ones come to visit from the spirit world.
Altars made with pictures of loved ones and their favorite foods, drinks, and flowers are all meant to attract their spirit.
Another way to attract their spirit is by singing to them. The Mariachi Club performed both sad and happy songs to their loved ones.
One of the more notable, traditional songs that was performed was “La Llorona,” which translates to crying woman.
The song is about betrayal and a woman crying for her children.
The singer, who is not a current ELAC student but rather Aurellio Reyes’ father, struggled to make it through the song without crying.
He said the song reminded him of his grandma, and he thought of her.
He delivered such an emotional performance, many people in the audience began to cry along with him.
Another well known, heart wrenching song in Mexican Culture, is “Amor Eterno,” which means Love Forever.
The song is about when a loved one passes away, and the agony and pain one goes through to accept and move on from their loss.
Reyes, performed a beautiful yet tear-jerking performance of the song. Many in the audience could not even look her in the eye, for fear of crying.
They ended on a positive note with the final song, “La Negra” which means black woman, but in this sense it is complimenting a Mexican woman who is noticeably dark, but remarkably beautiful.
The crowd enjoyed the song so much, they started chanting “otra,” which means one more!
The band happily performed their encore performance with, “Aca Entre Nos” which translates to just between us.
Ending on a high note the audience was very pleased.
Reyes believes representation and inclusivity matters and that is what motivates her to continue with the Mariachi club.