LBC’s Mariachi Bands Shine in Unforgettable Stage Experiences

LBC’s commitment to our after-school community mariachi program is probably most distinguished by the performance opportunities we strive to offer our students. December was no exception, presenting each of the three levels of players with extraordinary stage experiences they’ll likely never forget.

At our 17th Annual Posada Navideña on December 8, for the third year in a row, LBC’s Mariachi Ensemble performed for the opening dance before more than 1600 patrons who came to see the world-renowned Calidanza Dance Company. To prepare for the formal evening performance, members of LBC’s advanced band, Mariachi Cantreras de mi Tierra de LBC, rehearsed many hours over the last several months, under the leadership of LBC’s new Music Specialist Matthew Isais Bowker.

Typically, LBC’s advanced Mariachi Ensemble performs for the various community events that request our participation, but last month, our Education and Community Engagement staff created an opportunity for the beginner level mariachi learners to shine in the spotlight. On December 2, the two groups, Mariachi Chilaquiles (ages 12 to 16) and Los Toritos (ages 9 to 14) had their first performance of the year at the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market here on the LBC campus.

Originally planned for an al fresco performance, rain sent everyone into our spacious atrium, which provided cover for the students plus some 200 proud parents and market goers who became quick fans. The performance allowed the students to demonstrate the skills that they had worked hard to attain last semester, skills which helped them progress to the intermediate level.

A balloon filled with happiness

It’s tough to articulate the benefit of performing before an audience when you’re learning to play an instrument in a band or orchestra, but one young mariachi student was able to describe the thrill. “When you’re on stage and you hear our introduction, everybody in the audience goes crazy. When that happens, you get this adrenaline rush through you. You go on stage, you’re nervous, but as you start playing, you just start feeling happy. It feels like a balloon that’s expanding, and it’s filled with happiness. That happiness keeps you going. Sometimes I feel like I don’t want to stop.”

Thanks to our donors and members, LBC can offer a robust year-round mariachi program, currently serving 140+ students from communities around Sonoma County, including Cloverdale, Sebastopol, Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Sonoma, and Healdsburg. Started in 2017, the program expanded under the guidance of José Soto, then a graduate of Sonoma State University. It teaches technique, musicianship, and stage presence as well as social and emotional skills, like perseverance, leadership, cooperation, and collaboration. More important, it provides a bridge for community building, cultural understanding, and family connection.

To learn how you can support this critical community arts program, visit our website.

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