In a city with a large Latin community, the Music of Mexico Ensemble has found a comfortable niche within the UCLA community.
From the boisterous ringing of trumpets to the deep singing of sorrow-filled ballads, the ensemble focuses on the mariachi tradition and the genres that exist within that, including son jalisciense, ranchera and boleros. Jesus Guzman, a Grammy award-winner for his work in mariachi, provides his expertise and experience in the musical style based largely on string instruments. The beginners’ section of the ensemble is open to anyone with an instrument, even those outside the ethnomusicology department, and is made up of an ethnically varied group of about 40 students. The advanced section is comprised of the Mariachi de UclatlÃ¡n, which is a mariachi group that first came into existence in the early 1960s. Lauryn Salazar, Leticia Soto and Mary Alfaro started the current incarnation of the group in 2007.
The group is comprised of five violins, three trumpets, a harp, a guitarrÃ³n, a vihuela and a guitar. Playing traditional Mexican music, the group is able to bring a piece of home to many of its audience members.
“A lot of (the audience members) know the words. They are reminded of growing up,” said Jessie Vallejo, an ethnomusicology doctoral student and violin player in Mariachi de UclatlÃ¡n.