Legendary trumpeter Federico Torres will be honored in a special presentation during the 5th Annual International Mariachi Conference held at the University of San Diego (USD), March 10 & 11, 2017. The presentation will be held Friday, March 10, at 10 a.m. in the Shiley Theatre of the USD Camino Hall music building, and is open to the public.
“I wanted to present Federico as the opening event of the workshops, so students can meet him when they arrive, and know more about this renowned musician they’ll be interacting with over the next two days,” says conference director Serafín Paredes.
Federico extends his personal invitation: “I’d like to invite all mariachi students and fans to attend my presentation, which will be more of an informal talk than a formal conference. I hope the public asks lots of questions, and I’ll try to answer them all. My ex-compañero Rigoberto Alfaro will be there to help me fill in some of the gaps, and my good friend Jonny Clark, whom I’ve known for 40 years, will be moderating and projecting photos. I wish there were more opportunities like this,” says Torres, “because there is a need to continue to share important historical mariachi information.”
Federico Torres Martínez was born in Guadalajara, where he studied the trumpet as a boy and where, by age 14, he was already playing with professional mariachis. By age 16 he had moved to Mexico City and joined the famous Mariachi Perla de Occidente, where his bandmates included Jesús Rodríguez de Híjar, Rigoberto Alfaro, and Juan Pinzón, all of whom he would eventually play with in Mariachi Vargas. After leaving Perla, Federico worked with Mariachi América de Alfredo Serna, Mariachi Nacional de Arcadio Elías, and Mariachi Tolteca de Miguel Martínez.
In late 1966, Federico joined the world-famous Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, where for the next half century he would perform, tour, and record with el mejor mariachi del mundo, and accompany the greatest vocalists in ranchera music. In 2014, the year he retired from Vargas, Federico was inducted into Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque’s Mariachi Hall of Fame. He was also honored by San Antonio’s Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza, New York City’s Mariachi Conservatory, and Mariachi Tapatío de Álvaro Paulino.
Besides Federico Torres, other instructors for this two-day music conference include Rigoberto Alfaro, Juan Manuel Arpero, Sergio Caratachea, Javier Rodríguez, and members of University of Texas Río Grande Valley’s award-winning Mariachi Aztlán. Workshops will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days, in the USD Camino Hall music building.
The USD mariachi conference will present two concerts. Friday’s Student Showcase features high school groups and concludes with Mariachi Juvenil de San Diego, directed by Serafín Paredes. Saturday’s Concert Presentation opens with conference participants performing all the music they have studied during their two days of classes, followed by the four best high school groups chosen from the previous evening’s concert. The headliner groups are Mariachi Los Toreros de USD, Mariachi Aztlán, Mariachi Los Reyes featuring guest trumpeter Juan Manuel Arpero, and — direct from Guadalajara — Mariachi Sol de América. Both concerts will be held in USD Camino Hall’s Shiley Theatre. Showtime is 6:30 for both evenings.
Juan Manuel Arpero Ramírez is not a mariachi musician per se, but among trumpet players in general he is considered un maestro de los maestros. In addition to performing with Mariachi Los Reyes, maestro Arpero will give a master class for all USD mariachi conference trumpet students.
The following day, Sunday March 12, in neighboring National City, Pepper Park will be the site of an all-day, outdoor mariachi festival sponsored by the National City Chamber of Commerce. This free event runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. One stage will feature a high school mariachi competition, while another features groups like Mariachi Garibaldi (dir. Jeff Nevin), Mariachi Estrellas de Chula Vista (dir. Mark Fogelquist), Mariachi Juvenil de San Diego (dir. Serafín Paredes), Mariachi Aztlán (dir. Francisco Loera), and Mariachi Los Reyes (dir. Javier Rodríguez) with special guest Juan Manuel Arpero. Mariachi Sol de América tops the bill. There will also be folkloric dancing, entertainment for children, and what the festival’s organizers describe as “a celebration of arts, culture, and culinary delights.”
Further information may be obtained on the National City Mariachi Festival website.