By Stephanie G.
UC Berkeley’s Mariachi Luz de Oro became the first mariachi ensemble to ever perform in Hertz Hall during the afternoon of Nov. 13, 2019. The mariachi performed for the 68th Annual Noon Concert Series, a series of free weekly concerts that started in 1953 provided by the Department of Music at UC Berkeley.
Moreover, Mariachi Luz de Oro broke traditional measures of the genre byway of their self-proclaimed unconventional mariachi style. This proclamation proved true with the presence of a piano and original pieces.
The mariachi, composed of UC Berkeley students, from various cultural and academic backgrounds, performed regional Mexican classics from composer Jose Alfredo Jimenez such as Si Nos Dejan and El Rey. Mariachi Luz de Oro was accompanied for the second half of their repertoire by songstress and UC Berkeley alum, Dr. Juanita Ulloa.
Dr. Ulloa performed Malagueña Salerosa and was backed solely by a piano for this piece. In the theme of luz or enlightening, and before the audience could contend the authenticity of Ulloa’s instrument choice, Dr. Ulloa discussed the origins and variations of the mariachi genre mentioning that early regional modifications included the piano. After Malagueña Salerosa, Mariachi Luz de Oro rejoined Dr. Ulloa, and together they closed with an original piece titled Cuando Canto. Afterwards, guests were not ready to part ways with the mariachi, and plead for an encore.
True to their name, Mariachi Luz de Oro brought a little bit of sunshine, to an otherwise dim November afternoon in Berkeley.