Cal Lutheran hosts free mariachi concert

Show marks launch of programs dedicated to genre

Grammy Award-winning Mariachi Divas will perform in William Rolland Stadium.

Photo: Lou Collazo Photography

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – June 5, 2018) California Lutheran University is presenting a free mariachi concert from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 24, to mark the launch of programs dedicated to the Mexican musical genre.

Grammy Award-winning Mariachi Divas will perform in William Rolland Stadium on the Thousand Oaks campus. Marisa Ronstadt will join them for the last half hour, and mariachi students from Cal Lutheran and local high schools will perform in the finale. 

New faculty member Rocio Marron, an accomplished musician who has worked with Mariachi Divas, helped organize the concert as part of her efforts to bring mariachi to the university. In February, she began recruiting students for a new mariachi class and ensemble set to debut in fall. The ensemble, which will include community members, will likely present its first concert in fall. Marron also helped to launch a mariachi club, which practiced together weekly during the spring semester. 

“The key is to teach students that there is an academic way to approach something like mariachi, which is a symbol of the rich cultural heritage of Latino communities in Mexico and the United States,” said Jessica Lavariega Monforti, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Expanding the music program to include mariachi aligns with Cal Lutheran’s goals as a Hispanic-serving institution. The university has implemented several new academic, social and support programs to better serve Latinos as the percentage of Latinos among full-time undergraduate students has risen from 14 percent in 2006 to 32 percent today. The growing Latino enrollment reflects the changing makeup of the surrounding area as well as Cal Lutheran’s increased efforts to recruit, admit and retain Latinos and other underrepresented students.

Founded in 1999 by trumpet player Cindy Shea, Mariachi Divas won the 2009 and 2013 Grammy Awards for Best Regional Mexican Album of the Year. The group has received seven Grammy nominations after releasing 14 albums. Mariachi Divas has been Disneyland Resort’s official mariachi since 2003. With Shea’s Italian and Irish heritage and her ensemble of women from diverse backgrounds performing in a male-dominated genre, the group demonstrates that music has no boundaries.

Ronstadt returned to her rich cultural roots in mariachi last year. She performed at the Mariachi Festival in Phoenix, at the renowned Teatro Metropolitano in Mexico City with the mariachi touring show “Mano a Mano Ranchero,” and in the Los Angeles production commemorating the 30th anniversary of her cousin Linda Ronstadt’s multiplatinum-selling mariachi album, “Canciones de Mi Padre.” 

The stadium is located on the north side of Olsen Road between South Campus Drive and Mountclef Boulevard. For more information, contact Nita Sinaga at dsinaga@callutheran.edu.

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