© 2024 91.9 KVCR

KVCR is a service of the San Bernardino Community College District.

San Bernardino Community College District does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, creed, religion, disability, marital status, veteran status, national origin, race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

701 S Mt Vernon Avenue, San Bernardino CA 92410
909-384-4444
Where you learn something new every day.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
IE Latino Voices shines light on Latino-led and serving organizations.

June 19: IE Latino Voices

IE Latino Voices - A Conversation with Jessie Vallejo of CPP Mariachi

Yvette Walker

With KVCR News. I'm Yvette Walker. This is IE Latino Voices, where we invite representatives from Latino led and Latino serving organizations to share their stories and their impact in our region. Joining me today is Dr. Jessie Vallejo, Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at Cal Poly Pomona. Thank you so much for being with us today, Dr Vallejo.

Dr. Jessie Vallejo

Thank you so much for inviting me.

Yvette

Dr Vallejo, please talk about your journey to directing the mariachi ensemble in the music department at Cal Poly Pomona.

Dr. Vallejo

Sure, so it's a little bit of a long journey. You know, I grew up in central New York, and I always wanted to know more about my heritage. My grandfather was from Leon, Mexico. So, when I started college, you know, I continued with a Spanish minor. I took Spanish in high school and middle school, and when I was in college, I applied for a grant to go to Mexico and learn about mariachi music, because I'm a violinist, and I really wanted to learn more about my heritage through my main instrument, and also get more experience with my heritage language, with Spanish. So, when I came out to grad school at UCLA for the ethnomusicology department, I joined the mariachi ensemble with Jesus Guzman from mariachi los camperos, and I learned with him for several years. And then this job came about when I was applying for jobs. So, after I graduated with my PhD, so then I got hired.

Yvette

How long has the program existed, and what prompted its initiation?

Dr. Vallejo

Yeah, so it's been around about nine years. So, I started it in January 2016 and it was really a revamp from program that began in the 1970s and 1980s but had sort of faded out over the years. And due to student activism, the department decided to create a new hire for a mariachi specialist. And so, I was really glad and fortunate to have this job pop up, and here I am.

Yvette

Dr. Vallejo, please tell us about what the ensemble looks like today.

Dr. Vallejo

Yeah, so the ensemble right now we have, it's large. It's a little bit larger than a normal mariachi, so about 20 students. We often have multiple guitarists, melody instruments like violin, flute, trumpet, a couple guitarron students and harp. And very diverse in terms of music majors, non music majors, engineering students, business students, all sorts of different degrees and different backgrounds too. So, we've had a lot of our Asian students and non Latino students who have been in the ensemble too.

Yvette

Dr Vallejo, how can the community enjoy performances of the mariachi ensemble?

Dr. Vallejo

We perform at least once a semester at the music department's Recital Hall, and those are usually in October and April. So, you can watch the music department's website for our official concert dates. I believe our next one is November 12, 2024 you can follow us on @cppmariachi on Instagram. You know, we'd love to see people at some of our community events, occasionally, we play for the city of Pomona, or some public educational events like the Pomona Library. So, come support us in our live performances.

Yvette

Please share your experience with students that participate in the ensemble.

Dr. Vallejo

Sure, it's been an extremely rewarding experience. You know, I've had students come in who wanted to learn more about their heritage. You know, they came in being language learners for Spanish, and just like I was when I was in college, and I've seen them grow in confidence, I've seen them connect with their family members. And that's always really special for me, because I know what that experience is like. I've also had students come in who felt isolated on campus. We’re a commuter campus, a lot of CSUs are, so it was a really important place for them to come in and make friends and contacts. I've seen students explore different interests. Like one of my current engineering students loves harps, so he's come in, he's taking, he's taken many of my classes, and he's been a major part of the mariachi ensemble throughout the years, and he's been working on learning how to build his own harps. And I've also seen students come in who just really love Latino culture and want to practice their Spanish and connect with their peers. So.

 Yvette

Dr Vallejo, please share again. The best way to learn more about your program? Sure. So

Dr. Vallejo

Sure so, @cppmariachi on Instagram and coming by the music department. You know, if students are interested in seeing what we're about, they can always email us and come in and observe a rehearsal or our master classes. We often have world class mariachi artists come in to work with our students. And space, you know, as long space is available that's open to the public as well. So, we'd love to see people on campus and visiting, it's paid by you know, the citizens of California, and so it's open to the public.

Yvette

Thank you so much for being with us today Dr Vallejo.

Dr. Jessie Vallejo

Thank you so much, Yvette.

Yvette Walker

Join us again next week for IE Latino Voices. You can find this story and others on our website at kvcrnews.org/ielatinovoices. IE Latino Voices is produced by KVCR Public Media and is funded by generous support from the CIELO Fund at IECF, uplifting and investing in the IE’s Latino community. For KVCR News, I'm Yvette Walker.

Yvette Walker is a Spanish bilingual, Southern California native and owner of Premier Marketing & Public Relations, a full-service, digital media and traditional media marketing and public relations firm and produces and hosts ABC News Affiliate - Southern California Business Report.