Saturday, March 24

Spring festival brings ethnic mix


One of the most long-standing spring traditions at UCLA is the
Spring World Music Festival, an eclectic mix of ethnic music
ensembles hosted by the ethnomusicology department. This year, the
festival will be held for the first time at the UCLA Hammer

The first two out of 11 concerts in the series starts on April
17 with the Music of Mexico Ensemble and the Afro-Cuban

The festival gives beginning students who may have little or no
experience playing a musical instrument a chance to explore a new
genre of music and to learn about its roots. Lauryn Salazar, 24,
teaching assistant to Jesus Guzman and musician in the Music of
Mexico Ensemble, likes the opportunity to practice and further her
studies in mariachi music. And coming from an undergraduate program
at Carlton College in Northfield, Minnesota, Salazar said she knows
how lucky she is to be involved in the festival.

“I wish Minnesota had something similar. We are blessed to
have these ensemble programs. “¦ Most other colleges
don’t have this opportunity to get exposed.”

The fun in these programs is not just limited to the students
either. Tim Rice, chair of the ethnomusicology department, has also
partaken in the activities.

“When I first came to UCLA many years ago, I actually
taught the Balkan Music Ensemble. “¦ For the last five or six
years, we have been able to hire native musicians to teach the
ensembles, so now I am a student in these ensembles and I take
lessons from the teachers.”

The groups are also not limited to music or ethnomusicology
majors, and students of all ethnicities can participate as

“We have (students) from all different nationalities:
Mexican, Nicaraguan, Cuban,” says ensemble director Francisco
Aguabella, who comes from Mantanca, Cuba, and has been playing
Cuban percussion instruments for 20 years, and teaching at UCLA for
over 10.

The process that goes into putting on the festival is quite
intensive, as students usually enroll in the ensemble classes in
the fall quarter.

Rehearsals are for three hours once a week, until spring quarter
when the performances begin.

“Many of these traditions you can learn some basic parts
very quickly, and then the traditions are built around compiling
some very simple parts into a very complex texture. It’s a
fun way for students to get involved with music without having
years of training like we think of with Western classical
music” says Rice.

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