Multicultural week kicked off at Maple Ridge secondary on Monday with the mariachi group Los Dorados.
The third annual event celebrates five different cultures during the week, starting with Hispanic Day. That also included a pinata and traditional Mexican food for lunch.
Alex Alegria, lead vocalist and guitarist with Los Dorados, asked the crowd gathered at the MRSS library, cómo estás, how are you, before explaining some of the history of the mariachis.
Mariachi comes from the Aztec language Nahuatl, meaning happy time, Alegria explained.
“So we’re here to bring you a happy time.”
The band – made up of Patrick Ernst on violin, Michael Krywulak on violin, Diego Kohl Guitarron on the Mexican bass,
Mark D’angello on trumpet and traditional dancer Marisol Villanueva – started with with a folk song originally from Tepic, Nayarit in western Mexico, called El Son de la Negra.
Alegria noted that this is the most traditional of all the mariachi songs.
“During the Mexican Revolution, the people put together an army to fight the government,” he said. “And they stole a train. The train was a black train and this train helped a lot through the Revolution,” he said about the meaning of the song.
“The mariachi has been in Mexico for hundreds and hundreds of years,” he said adding that if you go to Mexico and see a band wearing white with straw hats, they are traditional mariachis who sing in one of the many indigenous languages of Mexico, including Nahuatl.
“That’s one of the beautiful things about Mexico is that we still have those indigenous languages,” Alegria said.
He also explained to the students that the modern mariachi was created around 1930, when bands were broadcast on national television.
“They wanted to modernize the group and they added this outfit, it’s called charro outfit,” he said, noting that this is also when the trumpet was added to the mariachi.
“In Mexico, a charro is a person who owns a ranch and is usually a rich person. They are usually good singers and they are usually good at riding horses and things like that and they hire the musicians,” he said.
Los Dorados played for 45 minutes. The band’s set included other Mexican folk songs, like Cielito Lindo, La Bamba, El Rey, Jesusita en Chihuahua and Jalisco.
The rest of the week will include Asian Culture Day, Germanic Day, Aboriginal Culture Day and French Canadian Day.