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From the heart: Online concert to celebrate NM’s ‘beloved stepchildren’ — mariachi, flamenco

Nuevo Mexicano folk musician Frank McCulloch will perform during the Música del Corazón Mariachis y Flamencos. (Courtesy of Melody Mock)

Mariachi and flamenco music make up the soundtrack of New Mexico.

Celebrate, revel in and learn about the genres during “Música del Corazón – Mariachis y Flamencos: New Mexico’s Beloved Stepchildren.” The 7th annual John D. Robb Jr. concert will stream online at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22. The virtual event is presented by the University of New Mexico’s John Donald Robb Musical Trust and the National Hispanic Cultural Center. The virtual show will feature a solo voice and guitar performance, as well as mariachi and flamenco performances. A panel discussion on flamenco and mariachi in New Mexico also will be part of the event.

“We’re very proud of our ‘Música del Corazón’ because we’re also really, really lucky to have Professor Enrique Lamadrid as our curator for this,” said Eva Lipton-Ormand, director of operations, University of New Mexico Robb Trust, College of Fine Arts. “And this year we also had board members who are involved in mariachi and flamenco who also were able to chime in. So it’s a really very special addition.”

UNM’s John Donald Robb Musical Trust was created in 1989 after Robb’s passing. It has 19 board members. The trust supports Robb’s musical legacy and his commitment to educating the public about the music of the Southwest.

Marisol Encinias, executive director of the National Institute of Flamenco, will be part of a panel during Música del Corazón – Mariachis y Flamencos online event. (Courtesy of Courtesy of Patt Barrett)

Música del Corazón curator Enrique Lamadrid says in his notes that mariachi and flamenco took root in New Mexico in the mid-20th century.

“We can now identify Nuevomexicano styles of Mariachi and Flamenco,” he says in his curator notes. “With their origins in west central Mexico, and southern Spain, both traditions musically remind New Mexicans that we are as Mexican as we are Spanish.”

A current patriarch of Nuevomexicano performers is Frank McCulloch, who grew up around the traditional fiestas and dance music of Las Vegas, New Mexico. His music also was inspired by his travels to Mexico, and its corridos and canciones became a large part of his repertory, as well as the songs of Revolutionary Mexico and Latin America. He also is a renowned painter of New Mexico landscapes, according to the curator notes.

“Frank McCulloch really is just an icon in the New Mexico music and art scene,” Lipton-Ormand said. “… He will also be doing a solo guitar and voice set. … He just celebrated his 90th birthday, and he is just the most amazing, generous, incredible human being.”

Lorenzo Martinez will join his son Larry Martinez for a mariachi performance. They will be joined by José Carrillo, voice and guitarrón; Miguel Ojeda, voice and trompeta, and Joseph Santiago, voice and violin. Lorenzo began playing violin at a young age. He was introduced to music by his father Roberto Martinez who played vihuela. Lorenzo listened to a cassette tape his father recorded of elderly violin players from Mora, Las Vegas, and Cuba, New Mexico. At age 13, he started playing mariachi music. Later, his son Larry would become a New Mexico music and mariachi musician. He plays violin, guitar, vihuela and guitarrón.

Flamenco cantaor Vicente Griego “El Cartucho” will be part of “Música del Corazón – Mariachis y Flamencos on Sunday, Nov. 22. (Courtesy of Betty Haas)

Vicente Griego of Dixon/Embudo dedicated his life to the study of cante flamenco, the art of flamenco singing. He is nicknamed El Cartucho after a gun cartridge or blasting cap, because of his explosive style, according to the curator notes. Griego sings for Yjastros, the American Flamenco Repertoire Company in Albuquerque. He tours nationally and internationally year-round and is an adjunct UNM faculty member. He will be joined by Eloy Gonzales on flamenco guitar and Javier Saume Mazzei on percussion.

A panel discussion led by UNM distinguished professor emeritus Enrique Lamadrid will be part of the event. He will be joined by Marisol Encinias, executive director of the National Institute of Flamenco and State Historian Rob Martinez.

“Usually, we have a nice, colorful program that we distribute for the concert,” Lipton-Ormand said. “Instead, we’ll have pretty detailed program notes with lyrics in Spanish, in English and Dr. Lamadrid’s incredible explanations making the connection between where flamenco came from and the whole (Roma) tradition from Spain and how that translated into more modern iterations and just how New Mexico again and again proves to be this vibrant place.”

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