Nuestra Musica, a folk concert featuring traditional northern New Mexico Hispanic music, was held annually at the Lensic Performing Arts Center for 16 years until its original organizers retired the show after last year’s performance.
But now the Spanish Colonial Arts Society has jumped in to host a show Thursday at the Plaza bandstand during what co-organizer Kevin Korte is calling a “bridge year.”
The new venue won’t be permanent. Korte and his wife, Miquela, have arranged for the show to return to the Lensic in February 2018, with the Colonial Arts Society as a sponsor.
This week’s show will include Nuestra Musica favorites like the legendary Cirpirano Frederico Vigil and his family, singer/former lieutenant governor Roberto Mondragon and Rob Martinez. Acoustic folk trio Lone Piñon will also perform, representing the younger generation that the Kortes say will continue the legacy of the region’s traditional music.
“You go to a wedding, a baptism, a barbecue, and you hear this music,” said Kevin Korte. “Some of it is starting to fade. We’re hoping to inspire this to continue at the same time we’re all enjoying it. You don’t hear this music anywhere else in the world.”
The Kortes, both of whom grew up in northern New Mexico, were devastated to learn that the Lensic shows wouldn’t continue. They decided bring Nuestra Musica back themselves and later received support to include it in Spanish Market’s pre-weekend festivities. For Miquela Korte, the Colonial Arts Society’s education coordinator, this musical genre needs an outlet more than ever.
“If we lose Nuestra Musica, we no longer have a venue for this music,” she said. “It’s the only venue that we really had left.”
Rob Martinez played alongside his family at several Nuestra Musica shows over the years. On Thursday, his performance will include musical retellings of New Mexico history through the perspective of his family heritage, fitting considering Martinez is also the assistant state historian.
He was excited to learn of the show’s revival, and says it’s an important way of “preserving and promoting” the state’s melting pot of cultures and ethnicities.
“It’s part of having a cultural experience in a unique place and time,” Martinez said.
This version of Nuestra Musica is making a point of involving inter-generational artists. Jordan Wax, vocalist and musician from first-time performer Lone Piñon, agrees and said he would like to see more younger groups like his tap into the style, and that public shows like the Bandstand event can help. Mondragon – a lifelong promoter of northern New Mexico culture – believes interest is growing. His act, like others in the show, features younger players like his grandson.
“Not only is it exciting to see them,” Mondragon said of the emerging generation, “but it’s also exciting to see some of the older people sharing songs they have known and having those songs stay alive.”
Spanish Market director Maggie Magalnick said the Thursday show will be one of the several festivities during “Viva La Cultura,” the weeklong celebration starting Monday and leading up to the weekend Spanish Market on the Plaza. Unlike the Lensic, this Plaza show is free and has room for dancing.
Program notes: Another legend, 93-year-old New Mexico artist Antonia Apodaca, was originally slated to perform Thursday, but had to cancel due to an injury. And Lone Piñon’s guitarron player, Noah Martinez, will not be with the group for this show.