Pasatiempo - - RANDOM ACTS - the West

The tra­di­tional Span­ish mu­sic of North­ern New Mex­ico has long been a love of his­to­rian Jack Lo­ef­fler’s, and not just be­cause many of the old songs tell sto­ries about ac­tual events in his­tory. “So many cor­ri­dos , the nar­ra­tive bal­lads, are about love lost and peo­ple get­ting killed, but they’re all done in ma­jor keys, which I think is fas­ci­nat­ing,” Lo­ef­fler said in a re­cent in­ter­view. He and mu­si­col­o­gist Enrique R. La­madrid and Ce­les­tia Lo­ef­fler (au­thor and edi­tor with her fa­ther of the book Think­ing Like a Wa­ter­shed: Voices From

) are the cu­ra­tors of the 15th An­nual Nues­tra Música pro­gram at the Lensic Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter on Fri­day, April 10. The event, which cel­e­brates the state’s His­pano folk mu­sic, is pre­sented by the Span­ish Colo­nial Arts So­ci­ety and the Lensic. La­madrid is a pro­fes­sor of Span­ish and a for­mer direc­tor of Chi­cano His­pano Mex­i­cano stud­ies at the Uni­ver­sity of New Mex­ico and the au­thor of Her­man­i­tos Co­man­chi­tos: Indo-His­pano Rit­u­als of Cap­tiv­ity and Re­demp­tion .

Lo­ef­fler calls him­self an au­ral his­to­rian, and his ar­chive now in­cludes more than 3,000 songs and thou­sands of hours of record­ings of in­ter­views, mu­sic, and nat­u­ral habi­tat. He is the au­thor (with his wife, Kather­ine Lo­ef­fler, and La­madrid) of La Música de los Vieji­tos: His­pano Folk Mu­sic of the Río Grande del Norte . Many of the pho­to­graphs of the state’s His­pano mu­si­cians that were taken for the book by Jack Par­sons will be on view dur­ing Nues­tra Música.

Lo­ef­fler re­called that his fas­ci­na­tion with the type of mu­sic that peo­ple en­joy in the Nues­tra Música pro­grams dates back to 1975. In that year, he re­ceived a grant to do a film on His­pano folk dance in Los Cor­dovas, near Taos. “What was in­ter­est­ing to me was that the nar­ra­tive bal­lads that are still sung hark back to the Ibe­rian Penin­sula 800 years ago, but the dance mu­sic — the polkas, the chotíse s, the waltzes — ba­si­cally came up the Camino Real de Tierra Aden­tro [the old road from Mex­ico City to the New Mex­ico fron­tier] in the 19th cen­tury as a re­sult of the fact that Napoleon III’s wife was a close friend of Max­i­m­il­ian’s wife in Mex­ico. What was popular in Paris quickly be­came popular in Mex­ico City, then came up the Camino Real.” An­other Euro­pean im­port was the vi­o­lin, brought to this area by a Fran­cis­can friar named Pe­dro de Gante, who founded the first school of Euro­pean mu­sic in the New World in 1523. “Some peo­ple feel he was the supreme con­quis­ta­dor be­cause he con­quered through mu­sic and dance,” Lo­ef­fler said.

“Back in the 12th and 13th cen­turies, peo­ple were singing ro­mances , ba­si­cally nar­ra­tive bal­lads sung in the lan­guage of the peo­ple. Be­fore that, peo­ple had sung in Latin. Th­ese nar­ra­tive bal­lads that had been about the gen­try evolved to the cor­rido that was about the peo­ple, la gente . That’s an im­por­tant distinc­tion. In our pro­gram you’ll hear some cor­ri­dos, some can­ciónes , and maybe a ro­mance — one of the ear­li­est songs I’ve recorded is ‘La Del­gad­ina,’ a ro­mance about a princess whose fa­ther had eyes for her and rather than suc­cumb to him, she died of both thirst and star­va­tion in a tower. That song was prob­a­bly be­ing sung as Oñate was march­ing up the Camino Real.”

Lo­ef­fler is a Gover­nor’s Award for Ex­cel­lence in the Arts re­cip­i­ent, as are three of the Nues­tra Música per­form­ers: Cipriano Vigil, Frank McCul­lough, and An­to­nia Apo­daca. Now ninety-one and a ver­i­ta­ble spark plug with her lively vo­cals, ac­cor­dion, and gui­tar, Apo­daca per­forms with Ray Casias on gui­tar and Bernardo Jaramillo on tololoche (acous­tic bass viol). Lo­ef­fler has known Apo­daca for decades, and was first ac­quainted with her mother, Rafaelita Suazo Martínez, a mu­si­cian he and his wife recorded in the 1970s.

“An­to­nia plays a type of ac­cor­dion that came up the Camino Real in the 19th cen­tury. She plays mu­sic from the bailes (dances) that were held in sa­lons in Ro­ci­ada in the 1920s and 1930s. That was a part of the cul­ture that took a huge hit af­ter World War II be­cause so many His­pano guys were killed in the war and oth­ers moved to Los An­ge­les and other cities af­ter they came back. But some of the mu­sic still was be­ing played, and my wife and I recorded a lot of el­derly peo­ple in the 1970s.”

The ma­jor­ity of tunes at Nues­tra Música will be old story-songs, but there may be a few newer ones as well. “For ex­am­ple, Frank McCul­lough wrote a won­der­ful cor­rido about a story that took place in his fam­ily in the 19th cen­tury. He uses the tra­di­tion to cre­ate new mu­sic, and it be­comes part of the reper­toire.”

Frank McCul­loch y Sus Ami­gos brings to the Lensic stage a 13-year per­for­mance his­tory; vi­o­lin­ist Melody Mock and gui­tarist Luis Cam­pos are long­time mem­bers. The other per­form­ers in this year’s Nues­tra Música are Roberto Mon­dragón (2012 re­cip­i­ent of the New Mex­ico His­pano Mu­sic As­so­ci­a­tion Life­time Achieve­ment Award), mak­ing mu­sic with his grand­son Ro­bel “Cha­cho” Tay­lor and gui­tarist Vic­tor Avila; Cipriano Vigil y la Fa­milia Vigil; singer David F. Gar­cía, a stu­dent of Cipriano Vigil’s who is now study­ing for a doc­tor­ate in an­thro­pol­ogy at the Uni­ver­sity of Texas-Austin; and singer and eth­no­mu­si­col­o­gist Brenda Romero.

“Many peo­ple don’t know there was a thriv­ing mu­si­cal cul­ture in New Mex­ico long ago,” Romero said in an in­ter­view from Colorado. “Peo­ple know about mari­achi mu­sic, but that’s not from New Mex­ico;

it’s from west Mex­ico.” Romero has a doc­tor­ate in eth­no­mu­si­col­ogy and has been on the Col­lege of Mu­sic fac­ulty at the Uni­ver­sity of Colorado for 27 years. She per­formed at the Lensic in 2008. “We had had a death in the fam­ily, and I told the au­di­ence about it, and I sang a hymn with my sis­ter and my mother, who was then ninety, and every­body was cry­ing.”

Romero of­ten sings the old bal­lads hav­ing the form of an in­dita , which Lo­ef­fler said com­bines el­e­ments of His­pano and Na­tive Amer­i­can mu­sic. Romero ex­plained that they “talk about the in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the His­panos and the Na­tive peo­ples. I also do some of the songs that are more ob­vi­ously from Spain, but the in­di­tas are more lo­cal; they have more of the his­tory of New Mex­ico. There’s one about the con­flict af­ter the com­ing of the white set­tlers. Some sound like they might have been com­posed by peo­ple who are Na­tive. Some of the peo­ple worked for the Span­ish or were en­slaved, so some of the songs speak a lot about that his­tory of iden­tity and how com­pli­cated iden­tity is in New Mex­ico.” Romero said she will prob­a­bly per­form at least one old song with Gar­cía.

“Brenda and David Gar­cía rep­re­sent a more youth­ful as­pect in the show, but it also con­veys that the mu­sic from ear­lier pe­ri­ods is still alive and well,” Lo­ef­fler said. “This is all about cul­tural sta­bil­ity, be­cause to me mu­sic is a mnemonic de­vice that ad­heres cul­ture to home­land.”

He men­tioned two tunes that il­lus­trate the im­por­tance of land in His­pano folk mu­sic. “A beau­ti­ful song that Cipriano Vigil wrote is ‘Se Ve Triste el Hom­bre’ or ‘How Sad the Man.’ It’s about the com­ing of the rail­roads in the 19th cen­tury and the pri­va­ti­za­tion of the wa­ter and the forests, which is an­ti­thetic to His­panic cul­ture, where ev­ery­thing was held in com­mon. And there’s a beau­ti­ful song by Chuy Martínez called ‘La In­dita del Rio Grande’ that ad­dresses the role of the Río Grande in cul­tural co­he­sion. I am deeply in­volved in try­ing to con­vey how cul­tural con­scious­ness rel­a­tive to its habi­tat is a vi­tally im­por­tant fact that we’ve left out of main­stream Amer­i­can cul­ture. Th­ese peo­ple still see land­scape in­trin­si­cally.

“It is more and more re­mark­able that cul­tural dif­fer­ences sur­vive in the United States, con­sid­er­ing the pro­found lev­el­ing in­flu­ences of tele­vi­sion and so­cial net­work­ing. “Not only that,” Lo­ef­fler said, “but we came as a com­mer­cial cul­ture with Man­i­fest Des­tiny, and we sec­u­lar­ized sa­cred habi­tat and turned it into money. An ear­lier mode of think­ing still prevails among th­ese peo­ple. That’s why I love the mu­sic.”


15th An­nual Nues­tra Música 7 p.m. Fri­day, April 10 Lensic Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter, 211 W. San Fran­cisco St. $10, no charge for se­niors, but reser­va­tions ad­vised; 505-988-1234, www.tick­

The vi­o­lin, a Euro­pean im­port, was brought to this area by a Fran­cis­can

friar named Pe­dro de Gante, who founded the first school of Euro­pean

mu­sic in the New World in 1523. Some peo­ple feel he was the supreme con­quis­ta­dor be­cause he con­quered

through mu­sic and dance.

— his­to­rian Jack Lo­ef­fler

An­to­nia Apo­daca; above left, Jack Lo­ef­fler; left, Bernardo Jaramillo; op­po­site page,

Cipriano Vigil y la Fa­milia Vigil

Roberto Mon­dragón;

all pho­tos Kate Rus­sell

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