At last year’s 25th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza, Mariachi Vargas performed the group’s classic popurrí Fiesta en Jalisco. First released in 1970 as the title track to Mariachi Vargas’ album of the same name, Fiesta en Jalisco has become standard in the mariachi repertoire and is still performed regularly by groups around the world. The track itself is a medley of various traditional rancheras from the golden era of mariachi music and Mexican cinema.
Mariachi historian Jonathan Clark provided the following information about the songs that comprise this classic popurrí:
The introduction to Fiesta en Jalisco is an instrumental theme that composer-arranger Manuel Esperón wrote for the mano-a-mano competition held between singers Jorge Negrete and Pedro Infante at Mexico City’s Teatro Lírico in 1952. Although this theme had never been recorded, several members of Mariachi Vargas had accompanied the two icons at that engagement, and they decided to use it as the intro for the new popurrí they were putting together, one loosely based on Esperón’s Fiesta Mexicana medley of decades prior.
The pizzicato part that follows is the theme song from Jorge Negrete’s 1942 film Así se Quiere en Jalisco, with lyrics by Ernesto Cortázar and music by Manuel Esperón.
After that comes “Cocula,” another Esperón-Cortazar composition, this time from the 1943 cinema classic El Peñon de las Ánimas, featuring Jorge Negrete and María Félix.
Yet another Esperón-Cortazar composition follows, Negrete’s “Traigo un Amor” from the immortal 1941 film ¡Ay, Jalisco… No te Rajes! This song is best known today for its interpretation by Lucha Reyes, who is also featured in that film. This section of the popurrí originally featured four-part vocal harmony, a texture that was extremely novel for a mariachi back in 1970.
The next familiar theme you hear is Chucho Monge’s patriotic “México Lindo y Querido,” made famous by Negrete in the 1952 film Siempre Tuya.
This latest video of Mariachi Vargas’ time-honored Fiesta en Jalisco is special in that it features the newest members of the group. Relative newcomers Carlos Martínez and Óscar Ortega share the vocals with veteran Daniel Martínez in an exciting rendition that gives a new twist to what has become the most famous mariachi popurrí of all time. “The new generation of student mariachi musicians has a strong connection with the current members of Vargas,” says Cynthia Muñoz, producer of the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza. “When young people have the opportunity to connect with Vargas, as they do during the San Antonio workshops, Vargas’ performance has an even more profound impact on them, and it leaves a powerful impression on all Extravaganza participants,” she concludes.
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