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Day Of The Dead: San Diego Concert Honors Late Mariachi Musicians

Day Of The Dead: San Diego Concert Honors Late Mariachi Musicians
Day of the Dead: San Diego Concert Honors Late Mariachi Musicians GUESTS: Jeff Nevin, artistic director, Mariachi Champaña Nevin Mónica Ábrego, soprano

This is KPBS midday edition. Maureen Cavanaugh. It's a remembrance and it's a celebration. Use it on some of the finest name in mariachi music will be performed by some of the finest music -- mariachi musicians. If the [ Indiscernible ]. And joining us for a live musical preview our musicians from Mariachi Champana Nevin. [Music playing] Yes. That's Mariachi Champana Nevin . Thank you so much for that. And Jeff Nevin is the professor of music and director of Mariachi Champana Nevin at Southwestern College and the artistic director of Mariachi Champana Nevin. Also the trumpet player. Thank you. It's good to see you. Perhaps it would be easier for you to introduce the people that are playing with us. Can you give us a round up of who was here? We have Brenda and Gisele on violin, [ Indiscernible - name ] on [ Indiscernible ]. Fabulous. What's the name of the song? Mega -- How are you going to be on -- honoring the great mariachi musicians? It's interesting and a fine kind of show. It's about eight or nine years ago and a friend called me up and we played for him many times what are you thinking of doing of Day of the Dead show? There are two or three songs of which is an ghost but we can't do a hill concert on that. He explained it to me and the Day of the Dead for Mexican people it's not about sort of thinking backwards it's about people who've passed away. In Spanish in Mexico they feel them more present than the Americans do sometimes. The relatives they set a place for the dinner table. It's almost like spending a day with the relatives and loved ones that are no longer here but they feel their presence. For us in a concert what we are doing is we are we living in performing the music of the most beloved artist in the history of mariachi music. In a sense and I'm guessing you don't have a predominantly Hispanic audience -- but I'm guessing for Americans like my folks this would be as if we could do a concert that had the greatest hits of Elvis Presley and John Lennon and Nat King Cole and George Gershwin and all the people -- if I could put all that in one concert and it would make sense because we work on -- honoring these people. You think a lot of people will be singing along? Absolutely. 100%. Pretty much every song is really well-known. All ask you if you would do another some force. Of course. [Music playing] Beautiful. Thank you so much for that. That's Mariachi Champana Nevin and Elizabeth Rodriguez. Thank you so much for that that was beautiful. You are a student? Yes at Southwestern community college. Jeff, you know you're talking that may be a lot of people in our audience aren't Latino and neither are you. Sometimes you can't tell and sometimes you can. My folks -- I was born in Chicago and my grandmother was born in Russia in my grandfather's parents are both Irish and on the other side my grandfather is from Sweden. Where does this love for mariachi music come from? I grew up in Tucson Arizona. So being in Tucson and in the community where it was common -- my mom for whatever reason really in joys Native American art so have a lot of rugs and artifacts and things in the house. When I was in high school, I would play trumpet in the high school band and after school one day I had my trumpet and someone asked me if they could play in a band. When I went to the band there where three people so it wasn't -- the first day I showed up it wasn't about the music was about spending time with some really nice guys and literally after the first day I felt like these guys are my best friend. I'm a to go back and keep spending time. After a few weeks, the group will looking for new people so after two at -- two or three weeks we had new people. It sounded great. Just a couple months after that there's a mariachi conference in Tucson. When I was 15 years old I went to this mariachi conference and we saw the absolute best mariachis in the world. That day, I met [ Indiscernible - name ] because he was in mariachi [ Indiscernible ] when I was 15 years old. Some of those people would be celebrating at this concert. I fell in love with mariachi that day when I heard them perform and Lola passed away a few years ago and we will be performing some of her music. What are people going to see at this concert? There are two different mariachi. There's an all female mariachi and we have Mariachi Champana Nevin which is my professional mariachi. We combine classical music with mariachi so we're going to have 10 who are absolutely the best in the world. The other component of mariachi is classical string players. It's a group of 20 layers. It's a small orchestra. We can do the more rustic old-fashioned group using the music. We also have [ Indiscernible - name ] was a classically trained soprano. So there are about 60 performers in all. Plus dancers. Plus the audience. The tickets are going really fast so if anyone is interested if getting close to sold out so you need to get your tickets. You're going to place out so I want everyone to know that the Mariachi Champana Nevin will be playing the day of the dead concert this Sunday at 3 PM at the Balboa theater. I want to thank you all in advance and if you would play a set. This is KPBS midday edition.

San Diego will host a remembrance and celebration this weekend of some of the finest names in mariachi music, from the late Joan Sebastian to mariachi pioneer Laura Sobrino.

The Day of the Dead concert is back, and it features Mariachi Champaña Nevin, Tijuana-born soprano Mónica Ábrego, mariachi legend Rafael Palomar, Mariachi Garibaldi from Southwestern Community College and ballet folklórico dancers.

“It’s the greatest hits of mariachi,” Jeff Nevin, artistic director and trumpet player of the Mariachi Champaña Nevin, told KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday.


Now in it's eighth year, the concert raises funds for the Mariachi Scholarship Foundation. The group works to support mariachi educational programs in San Diego County’s public schools and provides college scholarships.

Nevin helped establish the nation's first mariachi degree program at Southwestern Community College in 1996. That paved the way for similar programs at other local public universities and high schools.

About 1,000 students in San Diego County are currently studying mariachi music, said Nevin.

The Day of the Dead concert is at 3 p.m. Sunday at Balboa Theatre, at 868 Fourth Ave., San Diego.