AMFS invites the community to the first Mariachi Party | Arts and Entertainment

The Aspen Festival and School of Music is hosting the first ever Community Mariachi Party “De Colores” today at the Benedict Music Tent. The free event is open to all ages and will feature live performances by local music students and dancers from the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Folklório program, along with Denver-based professional ensemble Mariachi Sol de mi Tierra.

There will be a pre-concert party starting at 4 p.m. with cultural activities and booths set up on the lawn outside the Benedict Tent. Food and drinks will be available for purchase from Glenwood-based Taquería El Yaqui food truck, plus margarita and paloma drink specials for adults. The concert starts at 17:30

Leading up to the “De Colores” celebration, AMFS cultivated a Mariachi Workshop for Roaring Fork Valley students ranging in age and musical experience. The three-day workshop — which began Monday and ended today — also marks a first in AMFS programming, and like this afternoon’s event, the workshop was completely free.

Katie Hone Wiltgen, AMFS dean of education and community, said having a Mariachi workshop or some sort of Mariachi presence in the valley is something she has wanted to cultivate through AMFS for the past four to five years. She explained how the AMFS education department runs multiple programs in schools throughout the valley, and in many of those schools, the majority of participating music students are Latino.

“Creating culturally responsive programming is something we must put at the forefront of the Aspen Music Festival and School,” said Hone Wiltgen. “Mariachi is at the core of Mexican music and Mexican folkloric culture; it feels like the right thing to do for our students.”

Hone Wiltgen then said that not having Mariachi programming is, in fact, a disservice to the community. The dean mentioned how, ideally, she hopes to incorporate Mariachi into AMFS’s “Afterworks” music programming — which currently offers four after-school programs in beginning strings, advanced chamber music, classical guitar and choir.

“If Mariachi could eventually become our fifth pillar, that would be the icing on the cake,” said Hone Wiltgen.

When organizing the “De Colores” party, Hone Wiltgen contacted ASFB Executive Director Jean-Philippe Malaty to see if student dancers from ASFB’s Folklório program could perform at the concert.

ASFB Folklórico has provided free after-school programs to students in grades K-12 from Basalt, Carbondale and Santa Fe public schools for more than 20 years. This summer, ASFB has been working to put on more public performances featuring Folklorico students, Malaty explained.

“It’s a program that’s really rooted in the community, that has deep roots in the community and proudly showcases the diversity of the Beautiful Forks Valley,” Malaty said. “And now we’re proud to be a little more public with our program — they’ve performed a lot this summer.”

In addition to ASFB, Hone Wiltgen said AMFS partnered with five community organizations for today’s event, including Anderson Ranch Arts Center, English In Action, Valley Settlement, Basalt Regional Library and Pitkin County Library. During the celebration before the concerts, these organizations will cultivate cultural and informational activities, such as artistic projects and bilingual stories.

“This is a very different event for AMFS and is outside the realm of what people normally hear in the Benedictine tent,” said Hone Wiltgen. “This is a chance for us to show another side of what we can celebrate musically and let the tent and AMFS know that they are welcoming places for everyone in this community.”

The concert will be structured in three groups, said Hone Wiltgen, opening with a layered performance by Mariachi workshop participants, to be followed by ASFB Folklorico dancers. The professional ensemble Mariachi Sol de mi Tierra will accompany the student musicians and dancers on stage and then close the concert with their musical numbers.

During the last three days of the Mariachi workshop, students have been able to work with Mariachi Sol de mi Tierra, as well as Mariachi specialists and teachers brought in by AMFS for this specific endeavor. Local music teachers from Aspen to Rifle have also been a part of this workshop experience, Hone Wiltgen said, to help students with general instrumental techniques and also to learn Mariachi techniques alongside the students for future teaching purposes.

In just the first two hours of Monday’s workshop, the children had already learned an entire song, Hone Wiltgen said. And she hopes the community will come out this afternoon to support and experience the sounds, moments and magic of Mariachi.

“More than anything,” Hone Wiltgen said. “I hope it provides an event around which we can come together and celebrate the diverse tapestry of cultures that make up the Roaring Fork Valley and make it such a special place to live and learn.”

The inaugural AMFS “De Colores” Mariachi Party begins at 4:00 pm with a party, followed by the concert at 5:30 pm The event is free and open to all ages. Attendees can access easy parking in the Benedict/Harris Concert Hall Music Tent on the Aspen Institute’s Meadows Campus.

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