We returned again to Mexico in 1983, and appeared on the internationally televised on Guillermo Ochoa show, Hoy Mismo, and again in 1990 when we appeared on the Cuco Calderón show. (include photo)
In 1979 I attended the first Mariachi Conference in San Antonio Texas, and met the Mariachi Vargas, who were both performing and giving workshops. I returned to the San Antonio festival for four more years, being invited to assist in 1982 and 1983. In 1981 I took my then-brand-new Morales harp to the festival, and had my first of many workshops with Arturo Mendoza, harpist of the Mariachi Vargas. At that time there were no other harp students in the workshop other than myself, so I had three days of intense private six hour lessons from Arturo and was presented with so much material that I could not absorb it in one day, and would record enough lessons to last at least until the next year. (include photo)
In the summer of 1982, I traveled to Zapotíltic to visit José Mendoza, father of Arturo Mendoza. José himself had played briefly with Mariachi Vargas around 1933-1934, but was more noted as a solo player, in the tradition of the region. I passed a very pleasant afternoon with Don José, listening much and playing some, all to the accompaniment of the pajaritos in his patio, and the peals of thunder from the rainstorm that had welcomed our arrival there. I particularly remember that José had a repertoire that extended from sones jaliscienses, some common and some unknown to me, to songs from the turn of the century and including popular songs of the moment. This concept of not restricting oneself to songs of the past stayed with me, and though I deeply enjoy playing the older songs, I allow myself to carefully pick and perform newer songs too.
It was in the spring of 1983 that I started to perform solo, outside of the mariachi, and developing both my solo repertoire and technique. Though I continued to direct and perform with Mariachi Mixtlán, I was starting down a path that would eventually lead me away from it. I had planned a second visit with Don José again in the summer of 1990, but his untimely death at the age of 87 in the spring of that year prevented that.
In 1983, Mariachi Mixtlán participated in the first Tucson International Mariachi Conference, where the workshops at that time were taught by the members of the Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. At this first Tucson Festival, Mariachi Mixtlán won second place in the competition, first place going to Mariachi Internacional América from Tucson. In these early conferences, I again was often the only harpist in the workshop. While there might be 60 or 70 violins and a similar number of guitarists and vihuelistas, there were rarely any other harpists. This meant that Arturo could tailor the class to my needs and abilities, and as a result I was able to learn many things that would not have been possible otherwise. Arturo retired from Mariachi Vargas in 1995, and I continued to visit him at his home in Zapotíltic, both out of friendship and for his musical “consejos”. Arturo Mendoza passed away in May of 2005.
In 1985, I was invited to accompany Mariachi Internacional América when they performed in Edinburgh, Scotland at “The Festival” there. The hardest part of the trip was not musical at all, but rather arranging for someone to fill in for me for two weeks with Mariachi Mixtlán! Once there, we passed a marvelous time, and we were given an honorable mention in the “Best of Fringe” category, which assured us packed houses for the rest of the trip. I also had the pleasure of performing again with Mariachi Internacional América at the Indianapolis Festival in Indiana, and at the Mexican Academy awards in Las Vegas, where we accompanied Cuco Sánchez and La India María, amongst others. (include photo)
Mariachi Mixtlán continued to perform throughout California and I continued my solo harpist career on the side. We continued participating in the Tucson Festival, eventually winning first place in in the 1987 competition, and opening for Linda Ronstadt at the 1988 festival. 1989 was the last year we participated in the Tucson festival, as there were now festivals happening in California.
We participated several time in the Fresno Mariachi Festival ¡Viva El Mariachi! sponsored by Radio Bilingüe , and in 1991 started the “Festival del Mariachi de Alta California” in Salinas, at Hartnell College. While this festival only lasted four years, a victim of the budget cuts of the early 1990’s, it set the tone for many festivals to follow. In Salinas, rather that bring in a particular mariachi to both headline the concert and teach the workshops, we handpicked the teachers independently of the performing groups. We were able to include such “maestros” as Arturo Mendoza, Natividad Santiago, Gonzalo Meza, Nicolás Torres, Miguel Martínez, Felipe Pérez, Juan Pinzón, Heriberto “El Cura”Molina, José Hernández, Mark Fogelquist and numerous others, perhaps not of name, but of impressive abilities as performers and teachers. This set the pattern for many of the festivals of today, Notably the Albuquerque festival (where I directed the workshops for 5 years 1991-1996) The Wenatche festival, and the Chula Vista festival.
(Miguel Martínez, Lino Briseño, Arturo Mendoza, William Faulkner, Felipe Pérez, Heriberto Molina, Gonzalo Meza, Jesús Rodriguez de Hijar, in Salinas, California 1993)
In honor of our friend, Nicolás Torres of Tecalitlán, who had played with Mariachi Vargas in the 1930's (in the pre-trumpet era) and who had been the inspiration for the Festival del Mariachi de Alta California, but who had passed away in 1993, we formed the Mariachi Tradicional de Nicolás Torres, performing sones and canciones in the style that Don Nico had taught us, and using the traditional instrumentation from Tecalitlán in the late 1920's and early 1930's: violins, harp and guitarra de golpe. Included in our repertoire were several sones that Nico had taught us and that to this day I have not heard anywhere else, as well as several sones that, while "known", are not in common practice, or are played nowadays in a more modern style. We also played pieces from the repetoire of Mariachi Los Coyotes from Zapotiltic, who recorded in the 1950's and who, like Mariachi Vargas, represented the tradition and style of that region, but with different arrangements.
In 1994 I was invited to give a symposium on computer analysis of the rhythm in the son jalisciense at the “Primer Encuentro del Mariachi” in Guadalajara, Jalisco. It was here that I met for the first time Juan Pérez Morfin of the group Alma de Apatzingán, a group I had long admired through recordings. At the festival, they performed a number of pieces that I had learned from Nicolás Torres (1911-1992) of Tecalitlán, and had considered “Jalisciense”. This further convinced me of the common heritage of the harpists and musicians of southern Jalisco and Michoacán and the connection between the "arpa grande" groups of Michoacán and early mariachi. In 1999 and again in 2002 I was invited to give workshops on harp and guitarra de golpe at the “Festival de Mariachi y Charrería” in Mexico City. I have also given harp workshops at the 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2005 San Jose Mariachi Festival, and in 2005 was invited by Mariachi Cobre to play with them and accompany Linda Ronstadt at the San Jose festival.
Since 1998 I have participated as a soloist on Jalisco Harp in “Fiestas de Octubre” in Zapopan-Guadalajara, Jalisco. This month long festival encompasses all of the arts and many cities in Jalisco. I have had the honor and pleasure of performing solo in numerous places, including the Teatro Degollado, Plaza Fundadores, El Salón de Octubre, and in towns such as: Tequila, El Grullo, Autlán, Zapotlán el Grande, Zapotlanejo, Ocotlán, Sayula, Lagos de Moreno, and Cocula, among others. In 2005, I performed in Guadalajara, Tlaquepaque, Cocula, Mezquitic, Ocotlán, Ciudad Guzmán and Tequila, where I was given the honor and office of official harper for the town. Curiously enough, we toasted the event not with tequila, but wth a very fine Polish vodka, from Tequila's sister city in Poland.
In Ciudad Guzmán I had the pleasure of playing in duo once again with Daniel Torres on salterio.
I have also had the honor of attending on numerous occasions the “Fiestas P’urhepechas” in Zacán, Michoacán, and have been invited to perform Pirekuas that I have adapted to the harp. When not traveling, I perform at public and private events in the Monterey Bay area (Carmel, Monterey, Salinas, Watsonville, Santa Cruz, etc.) and Northern California.
|©2005 William Faulkner - Jalisco Harpist. All Rights Reserved|