Hayward celebrates its first annual Feria de Mariachi

Nydia Algazzali Gonzalez from Mariachi Orgullo Mexicano in the first annual Feria de Mariachi

by Jonathan Clark on August 24, 2010

in Mariachi, Special Report

By Jonathan Clark

Mariachi music is alive and thriving in Northern California. Last time I counted, there were over 40 mariachi ensembles in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Even though the current economic crisis has hit the Latino community particularly hard, live mariachi music can still be heard daily in restaurants and bars, and remains an essential ingredient of social events in the Mexican community. Since the Bay Area no longer has a dedicated annual mariachi festival, it’s no surprise that events and activities focusing on mariachi music have begun to proliferate here on a local level. And the collective influence of these has extended far beyond the region.

The Saint Cecilia’s Day festival held last November in Oakland, hosted by Mariachi Colima and featuring five local mariachi groups, was one of the first of these recent events. The following month, local talent was showcased again at San Francisco’s first Fiesta de Mariachi. Since then, ranchera singer Arturo Coronado has organized a total of five such fiestas in that city’s Mission District, in addition to recently founding The Mariachi Channel on YouTube. In May of this year, Radio Bilingüe organized an homage to Miguel Martínez, the “father of the mariachi trumpet,” in the city of Oakland, where they recently opened an office. Radio Bilingüe also produced four radio programs devoted to this legendary musician and composer. Last week, Club Jalisco brought the world-renowned Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán to San José for two concerts. This week, Hayward celebrated its first annual Feria de Mariachi on Sunday, August 22 at the Chabot College Performing Arts Center.

Francisco Zermeño

Francisco Zermeño

Feria de Mariachi is the brainchild of Chabot College professor Francisco Zermeño, who acted as master of ceremonies for the celebration. “Hayward is the fifth largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area, and 40% of its population is Latino,” explains the educator who has taught Spanish at the college since 1978. “A mariachi festival is long overdue here,” he insists. Zermeño is also a member of the Hayward City Council.

Mariachi Los Halcones (Photo Courtesy of Mariachi Los Halcones)

The show opened with Mariachi Los Halcones, a group formed 13 years ago in Oakland by Macario Huerta. “You know, most local groups concentrate on romantic and modern popular genres, but that’s not our specialty,” affirms Huerta. “To the best of my knowledge, we’re the only working mariachi in the area that’s trying to revive the traditional repertory.” Los Halcones’ solid, unpretentious set contained such seldom-heard pieces as “El Tesmo” (son) “Plan de la Villa” (son), “Ojitos de Capulín” (ranchera), “Delirio” (marcha), “Todo Alegre” (polka), and “María Amparo” (chotís). This group is a local treasure that deserves greater exposure.

Mariachi Femenil “Orgullo Mexicano” (photo courtesy Mariachi Orgullo Mexicano)

The most unique group on the bill was Mariachi Femenil Orgullo Mexicano, the region’s only all-female mariachi. Its 10 talented members of contrasting ethnic backgrounds and ages come from diverse parts of the SF Bay Area. “As women, we are committed to making a difference and leading by example,” says leader Lilia Chávez. “We all have a passion for this music, and we’re like a family.”

To be sure, Orgullo Mexicano’s inspired, tasteful performance—featuring impressive vocals—was one of the high points of the festival. In the three short years this ensemble has been together, they’ve overcome tremendous obstacles and have made immense musical progress. They are on their way to becoming one of the leading mariachis femeninos in this country.

“This group is all about breaking barriers,” explains Chávez, “and rompiendo barreras is exactly what this first Hayward festival is about. Today we’ve joined together with our compañeros to break ground for an important new performance venue for future generations of mariachi musicians and aficionados.”

Giovanni García and Raymundo Coronado of Mariachi Mexicanisimo

The headline group was Hayward’s own Mariachi Mexicanísimo, directed by trumpet player Raymundo Coronado. His father, the late Raymundo Coronado Sr., was one of the Bay Area’s pioneer mariachi musicians and bandleaders. The versatile Mexicanísimo performed original arrangements from a wide array of musical genres that showcased to great effect its many outstanding vocalists and instrumentalists.

“I try to keep the group’s style original,” says Coronado. “Pedro Rey taught me not to copy the classic recordings note-for-note, but to give them my own interpretation. I follow that philosophy not only in my own playing, but with my group as well. I also studied with a well-known San Francisco jazz trumpet player named John Cappola. He encouraged me to “spice up” certain songs, and that stuck in my mind. I apply that concept to certain boleros today. At the same time, I never want to lose the traditional style of the sones and rancheras, the way the great Miguel Martínez used to play them.”

The presence of Mariachi Juvenil de Hayward underscored how important education is to this event. Some 25 youths from different schools within the Hayward Unified School District filled the stage, eliciting smiles from the audience. This program, founded in 1996 by Francisco Zermeño and Alameda County school administrator Héctor García, provides a positive after-school activity for local youth, while instilling cultural pride. All proceeds from this concert will go to mariachi student scholarships.

Mariachi Juvenil de Hayward

Mariachi Juvenil de Hayward

Worthy of mention also were the numerous interventions of Carlos Moreno’s widely known Ballet Folklórico Mexicano and its offshoot company, Ballet Folklórico Tlapalli. Kudos to these fine dance troupes for their contribution to the preservation of Mexican folklore!

The festival ended, as might be expected, with members of mariachis Mexicanísimo, Los Halcones, and Orgullo Mexicano performing together in a spectacular grand finale.

Javier Guzmán of Mariachi Los Halcones and Ramón Zaragoza of Mariachi Mexicanísimo join voices in the grand finale

This year, thanks to the support of Chabot College and others, Francisco Zermeño was able to make his mariachi festival dream a reality. The Bay Area’s mariachi community looks forward to Hayward’s Feria de Mariachi becoming a long-standing annual tradition.

For details regarding next year’s Feria de Mariachi and for information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact: machetez@sbcglobal.net.

Videos of Los Halcones’ Feria de Mariachi performance

Contact list for San Francisco Bay Area mariachi groups

You can contact the author, Jonathan Clark, at mariachero@sbcglobal.net

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Alejandra Arias-Alcala August 27, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Hi Jon, porque no estaba enterada de este evento! Great Job. Please keep me posted on any new events. Also, Francisco Zermeño es paisano mio de Pueblo Nuevo.

Reply

Raymundo Coronado September 2, 2010 at 4:20 am

Hola Alejandra!
How are you? soy Raymundo Del Mariachi Mexicanisimo! I did not know you would be interested in this type’s of events. I was the one who put the three Mariachi’s together for Francisco. I’m really glad Francisco started this event because I had been mentioning to Francisco and Jon Clarke how San Jose “Mariachi Fest” has lost there originality! I hope some day we can make Hayward to be known as an International del Mariachi. Y QUE VIVA JALISCO Y EL MARIACHI!!!
Saludos!!

Reply

Rocio November 17, 2010 at 10:53 pm

I runned in to this information by accident. I wish I would have know about this event. Was there any advertisement for this event and if there was, were was it advertised. I would love it if next year GOD willing more information is passed out about this event to the Hayward community.

Reply

Romy Ibarra-Klein December 6, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Como se compran los tickets para el viernes 10 de diciembre en el internet, los quiero comprar hoy y quiero estar segura que son solo para el viernes pues no puedo ir el sabado y somos dos personas. por favor dejeme saber immediatamente, por tel. 415 495 2230 o por mi email. gracias.

Reply

Jose Antonio Espinosa December 4, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Just finding out about the great mariachi music I missed. Could someone here keep me informed about mariachi events coming up?

Reply

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