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Musical extravaganza: Mariachi Spectacular, related events feature workshops, concerts

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque.

Youth workshops, showcases and concerts fall under the Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque umbrella.

“The workshops are really the foundation of everything that we do,” said Peter Sanchez, chief executive officer for The Atrisco Companies. “We’re one of the few organizations that has educational workshops; even fewer of the organizations that do what we do bring in the maestro-level instructor talent that we bring in. We bring iconic names of the music genre into the classrooms to teach.”

The workshops attract school bands from across the country, according to Sanchez. There also are student dance workshops. This is the second year the organization is holding ballet folklorico workshops taught by master instructors.

The public can see the results during an extensive ballet folklorico showcase on Thursday, July 12, at Kiva Auditorium. Before the ballet folklorico showcase will be La Pasion de Mariachi.

“We have been doing this for four or five years,” Sanchez said of La Pasion de Mariachi. “This event is also free to the public, and its purpose is to teach our community more about mariachi, it’s history, the music genres, the musical group makeup, the instrumentation makeup, the variety of aspects about the music, and we demonstrate the music through this La Pasion de Mariachi event. Our hope is that we continue to develop more music enthusiasts, fans in our own backyard. If we have greater support numbers here in Albuquerque, that just makes Albuquerque become a destination for mariachi, because the community has embraced it and the community understands it well.”

Usually, 30 to 40 groups from around the country participate in the mariachi workshops. The public can see about 14 groups compete in during the mariachi showcase on July 13, at Civic Plaza. It also will be shown on the Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque website so families and friends can watch around New Mexico and beyond.

“You’ve got to have your game together to have the guts to put your group up there and everybody kind of knows that,” Sanchez said. “They know when they’re ready and when they’re not ready because they can see the talent level. We’ll showcase about 12 to 14 groups and they will compete in three or four different categories and then we will pick winners in the different categories and they get money prizes.”

The community can be a part of the mariachi Mass at 11 a.m. July 14, at Veterans Memorial Park. The mass has usually been held at local parishes, but the location has been changed to accommodate more attendees. The events wrap up that evening with the Mariachi Spectacular concert at Sandia Resort & Casino Amphitheater, featuring headliners Sol de Mexico de José Hernández from Los Angeles and Disney World’s Mariachi Cobre. Other performers include Mariachi Azálea, Mariachi Atzlán, Ballet Folklórico UT Rio Grande Valley and Hermanos Escamilla Ropers.

“We always try to find a female group,” Sanchez said. “To me personally I really like the female groups. I like the sound of all female voices. We have a group called Mariachi Azálea from Texas and they’re going to perform and we have another group from Texas called Mariachi Aztlan and then to kind of complement all of that we have a professional ballet folklorico group out of Texas and professional ropers that we have been bringing the past few years out of Juarez, Mexico… There’s going to be a lot of variety to it as it has been the last few years and it’s going to be another great show.”