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Mexican Heritage Plaza Announces The 15th Annual San Jose International Mariachi Festival
Published September 5, 2006

Expanded festival programming garners national attention for one of the country's oldest and most prestigious mariachi festivals. This year's line-up will include music legend Juan Gabriel, Vargas de Tecalitlan, Mariachi Cobre and Mariachi Azteca.

San Jose's Mexican Heritage Plaza, the largest multi-cultural arts center for Latinos on the West Coast, today announced several new events for the annual San Jose International Mariachi Festival, Conference and Concerts. "We have an exciting line up of performing, visual and speakers' events this year," stated Marcela Davison Aviles, President and CEO of the Mexican Heritage Corporation. "We look forward to celebrating a wonderful 15th birthday with both traditional as well as contemporary programming designed to give the festival national prominence." Set to run October 3-8, a festival highlight is Mexican pop superstar Juan Gabriel performing in concert with venerated masters Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan and Mariachi Cobre, who appeared together with Vargas at the San Jose festival 15 years ago.

"Billboard Magazine has called Juan a living legend and we are delighted to welcome back Mariachi Vargas, Mexico's most famous and beloved mariachi ensemble, for a wonderful reunion with the number one mariachi from the United States, our own Mariachi Cobre," continues Davison Aviles. "This concert, a Latin version of Great Performances, promises to be a defining moment for our festival. The combined artistry that will be amassed under one roof is mind blowing. This concert will be the "Three Tenors" on steroids!" 

New events during the festival:

On Tuesday, October 3, the festival will hold a panel discussion on the impact of mariachi music on American popular culture and music.  Participants include Daniel Sheehy, Director of the Smithsonian Institution's Folkways Record label; Chris Strachwitz, President of Arhoolie Records; Hugo Morales, Founder of Radio Bilingue; Dr. Olga N‡jera-Ramirez, Professor of Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz; mariachi historian Jonathan Clark; Eugene Rodriguez, Artistic Director of Los Cenzontles and Randy and Steve Carillo of Mariachi Cobre.

On Saturday Oct. 7--Mariachi Day at the Children's Discovery Museum-- the Festival will present its first "Mostly Mariachi" concert featuring the Bay Area's renowned Los Cenzontles (see Mariachi Festival Highlights in this release for the full schedule of activities).

The festival Student Showcase will offer cash prizes for the first time, in the form of US Savings Bonds, to students participating in this music and dance competition, which will be judged by a panel of professional artists and mariachi experts.

Feria del Mariachi--a free, outdoor, community festival for the whole family--will take place, for the first time, at History Park, located at Kelley Park on Senter Road, in San Jose.

Feria del Mariachi will feature two entertainment stages, food booths, crafts, games and art activities for kids on 14-acres of beautifully landscaped grounds in a charming, historic town setting with paved streets and running trolleys.

The Mexican Heritage Plaza relies on earned revenue and contributed income to support its educational programs and operations. Revenue from the Mariachi Festival directly supports the Plaza's mariachi and folkloric programs, which provide leading edge, innovative curriculum and instruction to underserved and low-income students throughout schools in San Jose and through the Festival's master classes.

Arts education is a critical component of a fully integrated educational curriculum. It has been proven that a complete education in the arts and humanities helps students think creatively, communicate effectively and work collaboratively in today's fast-paced, technologically advanced global economy. The Plaza's educational programs will be expanded to reach more