Submitted by Orcas Center.
The fastest growing Mariachi music program outside of Mexico is in Washington state. Their name? Mariachi Huenachi. Their intention? To share the value of Hispanic music with the nation.
Thirty student musicians and dancers from Wenatchee High School Mariachi Program and their award-winning director Ramon Rivera triumphantly return to Orcas Center Saturday, Feb. 9 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 and $5 for seniors or students at http://orcascenter.org/event/mariachi-huenachi-live/ or by calling the Box Office at (360) 376-2281, ext. 1.
Since the 18th century, Mariachi has been an integral part of Mexico’s music scene and most of the 300-plus students ranging from fourth- to 12th-grade in the Wenatchee program have Mexican roots. There aren’t many initiatives like it in the U.S. This traditional folk music includes vocals, violins, trumpets, guitar, and vihuela.
Mariachi Huenachi keeps kids culturally connected, and they are required to meet specific academic standards. Teacher Ramon Rivera said expectations are high.
“We are a farming community,” he said. “Their parents work in apples, cherries, and pears. When you think of an agriculture worker, you don’t think of them going to college. You don’t think of them going to be the next senator, the next president, the next governor of the state.”
So, Rivera challenges them, knowing by bringing this rich culture to the students, some of whom are or were Dreamers who recently became citizens of the US, it may provide a diversified appreciation of music or leadership and life skill opportunity through freedom in simply being themselves.
Mariachi Huenachi plays around 40 shows per year – including prestigious events like half-time shows at Seahawks and Mariners games, alongside musician Marco Antonio Solis and attending the signing of the DREAM Act with Washington Governor Jay Inslee in 2014 – but audiences aren’t always receptive.
Rivera said a concert for their local Congressman two years ago drew pejorative comments and citizenship questioning on social media. Since then, at the request of U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, the group has performed in the nation’s capital as a tribute to National Hispanic Heritage Month.
“To be recognized like that, by a politician that is on that [conservative] side of the spectrum, we’re looking past illegal immigrants and past stereotypes,” Rivera said. “These are kids.”
May we show them a warm island welcome!