Friday, September 13, 2013

Blowing their own horns

Spine-tingling mariachi music at Due Torri Restaurante
The deep throaty notes from the trumpet made the small hairs on my arms dance with joy: pure joy.  

A seven-person mariachi band made their entrance at the opening night of a new Italian restaurant on Isla – Due Torri.   

They strolled through the restaurant, finally settling near the guests of honor.  Guitars, and violins, and horns, and strong melodic voices – just thinking about it is giving me goose-bumps again.  

Serenading the special guests
The mariachis were dressed in decorative eighteenth century charro (horseman) attire.  Tightfitting and secured with multiple silver fasteners, these traditional outfits were designed to ensure that no flapping material would spook the rider’s horse.  The boots have small heels to keep the rider’s foot in the stirrup, and the large sombreros, the sun from the rider’s head.  Most mariachi groups have forsaken the large unwieldy sombreros in favour of the bare-headed approach.

Mariachi group on Isla Mujeres 
But where did the name mariachi originate from?  Well, some documents state it was derived from the French word for marriage, dating from the 1860’s French Intervention in Mexico.  Other documents show that the word existed before that time.  

The music has, on the other hand, evolved through the centuries from the indigenous music, played with rattles, drums, flutes and conch-shell horns during religious celebrations.  

Eventually with the arrival of the Spanish settlers harps, guitars, violins, and brass instruments were added into the mix.  I enjoy listening to all of those instruments, but for me, it’s the brass horns that really make the music. 

Guadalajara Mariachi Festival 2012

The modern day mariachi tradition is very strong in Mexico with annual festivals, and competitions in Guadalajara, and Morelia in late August or early September.  We were lucky enough to enjoy a few days of the Guadalajara festival last year.  Outstanding music and amazing costumes! 

The actual music genre didn’t become widely popular until 1920 with the first recording of a mariachi band, played over the Mexican national radio airwaves.  Another boost to their worldwide popularity came from the Presidential candidate Lázaro Cárdenas whose 1935 election campaign featured multiple mariachi bands.

Agapito Mangana Sanchez - at Due Torri Restaurante

Meanwhile, inside the Due Torri restaurant on Isla Mujeres, ninety or so invited guests clapped and sang with great enthusiasm.  It seemed like everyone, but Lawrie and I, knew the words.  

Even the young keyboard musician who had quietly been entertaining the guests joined the mariachi band, belting out spine-tingling notes in a voice that couldn’t possibly originate from such a slight body. 

Mariachi music really gets in to your blood.  I might have been born into the wrong culture.  Perhaps I was meant to be Mexican, not Canadian. 

Amazing voice for such a slight person
But – Celtic music and Scottish bagpipes also produce that goose-bump tingling reaction of my senses.   

Music opens the door to my heart.

Hasta Luego 
Lynda and Lawrie

Ribbon cutting at Due Torri Restaurante - Isla 

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