For over a century in the U.S. and Mexico, mariachi musicians have sung songs of love to mothers in the early morning hours of Mother’s Day. Cherished by multiple generations, these traditional songs can be enjoyed in a delightful concert setting this May 12 at San Antonio’s Charline McCombs Empire Theatre, in Serenata para las Madres.
Video above: San Antonio-based Mariachi Azteca de América performs under the musical direction of Gino Rivera. They are two-time grand champions of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo mariachi group competition.
Many of us have fond childhood memories of serenatas. My dad remembers listening to early recordings of Mother’s Day songs from a Mexico City radio station back in the 1930s while living on the King Ranch in South Texas. My mother remembers her grandmother being serenaded by mariachi musicians at the Market Square in San Antonio back in the 1940s.
I remember serenading my mother in the 1970s. My mariachi group arrived at our house at midnight, and we parked the cars quietly as not to wake the neighbors or the dogs, grabbed our instruments, and began singing and playing. The music woke the entire neighborhood, including my mom, who stood at the door in her robe, tears streaming from her eyes as she listened to our modest mariachi perform heartfelt renditions of the Mother’s Day standards we had prepared for the occasion.
What exactly brought on those tears is something I didn’t quite understand at the time. Some of the standards were songs like Gema, Canto a la Madre, Oh Madre Querida, Madrecita Querida, Amor de Madre, En tu Día and Las Mañanitas. All have powerful lyrics that express our love and appreciation for our mothers during this special time of year. They’re songs that tug at our moms’ heartstrings, and bring back memories of loved ones no longer with us.
Christina López of McAllen, Texas will open for Steeven Sandoval as first-place winner of the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza national vocal competition (middle school category) in 2016.
Being that serenatas are such an essential part of our culture and help shape who we are as Latinos, I felt it was important to preserve, share and perpetuate this tradition for upcoming generations. So we’re presenting this tradition in a live concert setting with an artist who is very dear and special to us here in San Antonio — Steeven Sandoval. For 14 years, Steeven impressed audiences throughout the world as the primera voz of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. This May 12, in celebration of Mother’s Day weekend, he’ll share the stage with San Antonio’s very own Mariachi Azteca de América.
Joining Steeven Sandoval and Mariachi Azteca de América on stage will be winners from the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza national vocal competition which include Cristina López of McAllen, Brooke Talk of New Braunfels and Kassandra Juárez of Río Grande City. Serenata para las Madres will be held at the elegant and historic Charline McCombs Empire Theatre, located at 226 N. Saint Mary’s St., on Friday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets ($25.00 – $85.00) can be purchased online at Ticketmaster.com, by phone at 1-800-745-3000 or at all Ticketmaster outlets, including the Majestic Theatre Box Office.
There will be a repeat performance of Serenata para las Madres in Eagle Pass, Texas on Saturday, May 13 at EPISD Fine Arts Complex. Tickets are available at Ticketweb and at the door.
Brooke Talk of New Braunfels, Texas will open for Steeven Sandoval as first-place winner of the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza national vocal competition (high school category) in 2016. Brooke will also appear on KLRN-TV, with members of Mariachi Azteca de América, on Thursday, June 8.
Note: A free, one-hour special presentation with Steeven Sandoval and Mariachi Azteca de América will take place at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Theater, located at 1301 Guadalupe St., San Antonio, Texas on Friday, May 12 at 10:30 am. The presentation is exclusively for senior citizens 55 years of age and older. Seating is limited and RSVP is required. Call the GCAC at 210-271-3151 to reserve your seat today.
Serenata para las Madres is brought to you by Muñoz Public Relations (MPR), producers of the 23rd Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza, with support from H.E.B., United Healthcare, WellMed, Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, Univisión, La Prensa newspapers and MariachiMusic.com.
Kassandra Juárez of Río Grande City will open for Steeven Sandoval as Grand Champion of the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza national vocal competition in 2016.
Watch Steeven Sandoval perform with Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlán and the Laredo Symphony Orchestra in the documentary Rhapsody on the Río Grande, to be shown on San Antonio’s public television station KLRN (channel 9), on Thursday, May 4, 2017, at 8:30 p.m. The film may be viewed after that date at http://video.klrn.org.