Women’s accomplishments in the field of mariachi music have long gone untold. The “Viva el Mariachi Femenil” Exhibit brings to light this rich history, chronicling over 100 years of women’s engagement and performance in mariachi music both in Mexico and the United States. The exhibit will be open from March 16 – March 21, in celebration of Women’s History Month, at the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse and free to the public. Curated by mariachi musician and Harvard graduate, Dr. Leonor Xochitl Perez, the exhibit portrays close to 15 years of research, photographs, documents, artifacts, videos and personal interviews that unveil the stories, challenges and achievements of pioneering female mariachi women. The celebration will culminate with the Mariachi Women’s Festival on March 21, with a free pre-concert community event and a Festival featuring 3 mariachi all-women ensembles from Texas, New York, and Los Angeles, with a special tribute to 11-time GRAMMY Award winner, Linda Ronstadt.
“It’s exciting to bring the exhibit and festival back to Los Angeles and continue to share this history with audiences of all generations,” commented Dr. Leonor Xochitl Perez, creator and founder of íViva el Mariachi Femenil! Exhibit and Mariachi Women’s Festival. “The exhibit and the festival showcase the amazing and talented women that have and continue to shape mariachi music and contribute to strengthening our cultural heritage. This year is also special as we prepare a tribute to Linda Ronstadt, honoring her as a recipient of the National Medal of Arts presented by President Obama last year in July of 2014.”
The exhibit displays the many women whom through their contributions have advanced this cultural form as promoters of Mexican national identity in Mexico and of ethnic identity and community in the United States. Their contributions have preserved mariachi culture both locally and globally. The exhibit will be on display from Monday, March 16 through Saturday, March 21 from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the lobby of the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse located at 320 S. Mission Drive, San Gabriel, CA 91776. Parking is available in the adjacent lot.
Prior to the exhibit opening, Dr. Perez will conduct a presentation that will include her collection of vintage images of mariachi women. The presentation will take place on Wednesday, March 11 from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. The presentation, “Women in Mariachi: Past and Present” will be held at the Music Hall on the Cal State Los Angeles campus. The event is open to the public and media. For more information can be found at www.mariachiwomen.org.
On March 21, the free pre-concert community event will take place in front of the playhouse entrance from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. featuring a performance by the youth group Mariachi Femenil Rosas del Valle from Central California. A spectacular concert of 3 all-women mariachi group follows at 7:30 p.m. featuring guest performers Mariachi Mariposas from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas; Mariachi Flor de Toloache returning from New York by popular demand; and one of the newest Los Angeles based all-women mariachi, Mariachi Las Angelitas. The concert will pay special tribute to pop and country music legend, Linda Ronstadt whose Spanish-language album, Canciones de Mi Padre (1987), celebrated her Hispanic heritage.
To purchase tickets for the March 21st Festival and for more information on the exhibit, visit www.mariachiwomen.org.
About Dr. Leonor Xochitl Perez
Mariachi Women’s Festival and ¡Viva el Mariachi Femenil! Exhibit Founder and Director, Dr. Leonor Xochitl Perez, began performing mariachi music in the 1970’s at Griffith Junior High School, located in East Los Angeles. This was the first youth mariachi group in California and among the first in the United States. Dr. Perez went on to perform with mixed-gender groups in Los Angeles and in Washington, D.C. Performance highlights include playing at two Presidential Inaugural Balls (one at 19 years old) and at two MARIACHI USA Festivals at the Hollywood Bowl. Mariachi Mujer 2000 was the last high-profile performance group that Dr. Perez performed with prior to starting her family. Dr. Perez obtained a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and PhD in Education from UCLA. She also obtained a master’s degree from Harvard in human development and psychology. She was a Dean at East Los Angeles College for 8 years and, for 2 years, an Administrator at the Harvard Medical School. In 2012, she returned to the arts when she moved to San Diego to become Artistic Projects Manager for the San Diego Symphony, bringing diverse communities together to co-create an original musical masterpiece with renowned film and television composer Bill Conti.