Mariachi Herencia de México is an ensemble of students (ages 11-18) from Chicago’s immigrant barrios that scored a surprise hit with their debut album of traditional Mexican music. Nuestra Herencia (Our Heritage), produced and arranged by L.A.’s Mariachi master, Jose Hernández, ranked No. 2 in its first week on iTunes’ Latin chart.
The band emerged from the nonprofit Mariachi Heritage Foundation that was founded by investment banker, César Maldonado, who was born and raised in the blue-collar, predominantly Latino community of Brighton Park on Chicago’s south side.
Maldonado, with the blessing of Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the support of a network of local businesses, launched a program to teach Mariachi music in the public schools. Initially five public schools were selected because they were among the schools identified by a city study as most lacking in arts resources.

The Mariachi program has now expanded to eight schools and has enrolled 2,100 students who learn music theory and performance in the Mariachi style. The ensemble, Mariachi Herencia de México, was created for students who showed the most talent and promise, and enrollment for the ensemble was opened citywide.

During this summer and fall, Mariachi Herencia de México will be appearing in venues as diverse as the Ravinia Festival (Chicago), Disney World/Epcot (Orlando), The Public Theater (New York), Guadalajara International Mariachi Festival (Mexico) and The Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.)

Stay Thirsty Magazine is very pleased to shine a light on this important musical education project that gives young people not only an introduction to the arts, but also a way to express themselves in a healthy, productive way.

(Video courtesy of Mariachi Herencia de México)


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