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‘Like Christmas again’: Mariachi de Spectacular de Albuquerque returns in virtual format, adds classes

Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque clinicals and events will take place virtually on July 16 and 17. (Courtesy of Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque)

Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque may have a different look this year, but organizers and participants are happy to have it back in any form.

Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque, a member organization of the Atrisco Companies, will take place virtually in three parts that consist of clinicals, a showcase and an All-Star Concert. The events, including music instruction and performances, are free internet broadcasts courtesy of the City of Albuquerque, New Mexico Arts, the Urban Enhancement Fund and other supporters.

“For me, after being a part of this for so many years, to get this mariachi music in July is like Christmas again,” said Peter Sanchez, CEO of the Atrisco Companies. “You know, it’s my Christmas music in the summertime, or something like that. I mean, I missed it. A lot of people did.”

The All-Star Instrument Clinicals will take place on from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, July 16. They will be followed by the All-Star Virtual Q&A sessions from 4 to 5 p.m. The evening will conclude with the Virtual Mariachi Showcase Competition from 7 to 8:30 p.m. A number of musicians, including all-stars, will be recorded delivering classroom instruction on a given instrument, such as the violin, harp and trumpet. There will be about six different instrument class recordings. Participants can view and play along with the instructional recordings for free. Registration is required to receive a link to each of clinicals. Participants can register on the Mariachi Spectacular website at

Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque returns virtually on July 16 and 17. (Courtesy of Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque)

“We came in with the technical expertise of a teacher to create a rubric, which is a manner in which you instruct so that it’s organized and structured,” Sanchez said. “And then we have the musician perform the instruction with some sort of direction, and it’s all being recorded. And then it goes into a production studio and gets tightened up by our production team. They then place the production video on the internet on Friday (July 16), during a given hour. Usually, we just put really good instructors in a room with 30 or 40 people and they just instruct. But, here, we have to video it and then we have to make sure it’s being done in a particular way so people can follow it because there’s no interaction between the instructor and the student in this exchange system video recording,”

The conference’s main event will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 17 with the Virtual Mariachi Spectacular Concert. Viewers can connect to the concert through the Mariachi Spectacular website. The show will feature Master Class All-Star Mariachis, which the organization refers to as the next generation of master instructors and performers that are the “mariachi torch carriers.” The 13 members of the Master Class All-Stars Mariachi ensemble were selected from a pool of more than 300 previous Mariachi Spectacular instructors and notable masterclass members from previous years. Selection criteria included participation in Mariachi Spectacular music workshops as a master student or instructor, as well as a continued career path in mariachi music as a performer, educator, researcher, recording artist, arranger, composer or ensemble director, according to a Mariachi Spectacular news release.

Prior to the pandemic, Mariachi Spectacular held a number of in-person workshops, a ballet folklorico showcase at Kiva Auditorium, a Mariachi Showcase concert at Civic Plaza and the Mariachi Spectacular Concert at the Sandia Resort & Casino Amphitheater. Atrisco Companies is already planning 2022 Mariachi Spectacular events.

“We’re already working on some preliminary plans and our plan is to return to the way the world was in 2018-19 before we all had to change things,” Sanchez said. “So we want to get back to Civic Plaza, back to the convention center and get back to our downtown in-person activities. That’s the plan right now.”

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