Music Conference

Building Bridges One Note at a Time!!!
The festival creates the opportunity for music students to learn music and ensemble fundamentals through a three-day event that includes workshops with instruction from a team of professional educators and performers from all over the nation.

-What makes this event so unique?
While the conference was designed for mariachi programs, this year, we have opened up workshops to string orchestra instrumentation! Now violinists, violists, cellists and bassists have the opportunity to learn this beautiful music of Mexico from top performers of the genre such as members of Disney World’s Mariachi Cobre, Trio Ellas and Mariachi Mujer 2000. The students will have the opportunity to perform the workshop music alongside these professionals at the main concert on Saturday night!

-It doesn’t stop there…
This year, we are very excited to welcome our special guest clinician and performer, violinist & violist, Jeremy Kittel. Jeremy studied at the Manhattan School of Music and performed with the world-renowned Turtle Island String Quartet from 2009-2015. He now tours and performs with his own Kittel Trio playing everything from bluegrass to Bach.

He is excited to share his wealth of knowledge with the students and apply it to Mexican folk music to ‘expand their [the students’] world’ in their approach to not just fundamentals of playing the instrument but in interpreting the common elements that make music a universal language. The Kittel Trio is even preparing a popular Mexican piece for Saturday night’s concert!

Jeremy will have a special one-hour session within the workshop schedule in which he will work with the bowed string students on instrumental & ensemble fundamentals and its application to the workshop music being covered. The students will be able to begin applying this knowledge directly on the written music in front of them. Jeremy will also be present during a student geared panel discussion with our other professional instructors and performers.

-Composing Component!
This year, we also have an El Paso native, video game and film composer, Enrique Ponce, who will have a session during the workshop curriculum about music composition and technology. This will expose the students to possibilities of taking different paths in a musical career!

-Concert Premier of String Chamber Music!
At this year’s concert, we will premiere selections from Sones del Occidente. This is an original composition by Mariachi Cobre’s violinist Joe Baca. This suite of Mexican Sones is written for string quintet, and will be performed by Sonitus Quintet. Sonitus Quintet will also accompany Steve Carrillo, Mariachi Cobre’s music director and lead vocalist, with Joe’s arrangement of the beautiful huapango, El Pecador.

Group Vocal Technique Class
This class is for all students regardless of playing level. Students will learn the importance of vocal technique and many of the exercises used by professional vocalists to keep their instrument working at its best. There will be discussion of basic vocal maintenance as well as performance techniques such as projection and pronunciation amongst others.

Instrument Sectionals
Students will get specialized group instruction with their instructor on their specific instrument (violin, trumpet, guitarrón, armonía, [bowed strings pilot clinic: viola, cello, bass]) focusing on the music that will be performed at the main concert. Topics open for instruction will be basic technique, reading written music, scales and/or exercises as well as other recommendations that the instructor views as beneficial based on their professional experience.

Panel Discussion
Students will learn about ensemble, general performance techniques, style and other musical fundamentals that are shared in common among all music genres, as well as learn about other traits that may be special to a particular genre. Students will be shown how vital fundamentals are when aspiring to be a professional musician of any subcategory. With fundamentals, an aspiring musician can do many things within the musical world. Students will have the opportunity to ask questions.

Music Composition/Technology Presentation
Students will learn about music composition with technology. They will learn about experiences composing for movies and video games in today’s age as well as tools and equipment for how it is done. Students will have the opportunity to ask questions.

Master Class Performances
This is an opportunity for school groups, private groups, trios or small ensembles, singers and even instrumentalists to perform a song for an audience of their peers as well as their master instructors. Both the student performers as well as their peer-audience will benefit from this positive open forum style critique and development session. Young musicians can learn a lot from performing and also watching each other. This helps to promote a positive, healthy and professional environment between the musicians of the next generation. The master instructor(s) will provide real time feedback that is helpful both to the performer and the student audience.