On February 15, maestro Rubén Fuentes — the most influential musical figure in the history of mariachi music — celebrated his 90th birthday with a party at his Mexico City home. Entertainment for the intimate gathering of family and friends was provided by none other than Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán.
A 16-piece Mariachi Vargas entertains party guests
Mariachi Vargas is currently auditioning several members for its sixth generation, so the group was in full force that night — with eight violins and four trumpets! The highlight of the evening was the world premiere of maestro Fuentes’ latest composition, an unorthodox canción ranchera titled “El Amor Tiene Tres Tiempos,” with lyrics by Irma Cue. The coauthor, who was a guest that night, was elated to hear her free verse poem so masterfully set to music and performed.
Mariachi Vargas rehearses on the day of the party
Amazing to many is how, at age 90, this legendary composer-arranger’s inspiration and attention to musical detail remain unparalleled and undiminished. If anything, he has had a resurgence of creative energy lately. Fuentes, who originally joined the group in 1944 as a violinist, is currently Mariachi Vargas’ general director.
Fuentes makes corrections to the score of “El Amor Tiene Tres Tiempos”
This March, Mariachi Vargas plans to begin recording the group’s upcoming CD. Although the theme and title have yet to be announced, “El Amor Tiene Tres Tiempos” will definitely be on it, says maestro Fuentes. Keep your eyes open for this album, as it’s one you won’t want to miss.
Mariachi Vargas poses with the maestro at his birthday party
Mariachi Vargas will perform many of their most recent recordings in San Antonio at the 22nd annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza concert, as well as teaching some of these to students in the event’s mariachi music workshops. This year’s festival runs from November 27 to December 3. Check the Extravaganza website for news and updates.
Maestro Fuentes’ wife Isabel joins Andrés González in song