Celebrate the roots and rhythms of borderland culture at a grand festival that’s totally Tucson.
Tucson International Mariachi Conference
Returning in April 2020
Experience an exuberant symbol of Mexican culture in Tucson, a mariachi hub of the United States. You can not only enjoy concerts of vibrant music and dance, but also discover why mariachi music is recognized by UNESCO as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
As fans know, a mariachi band should be seen and heard live to be fully appreciated! These performances are big and choreographed: Musicians wearing big sombreros and ornate charro (horseman) suits perform alongside swirling baile folklórico (folk dance) groups wearing flowers and traditional embroidered dresses. Soulful harmonies, bright strings, and bold brass sounds are punctuated at times by a Mexican grito, a heartfelt cry -- the most iconic sound in Latin music!
Experience this passion at La Frontera Tucson International Mariachi Conference, presented at Casino Del Sol every April. Three public concerts cap a week of rigorous student workshops led by masters of mariachi music and folkloric dance. On Saturday morning, a traditional mariachi Mass featuring live music and dance is offered by a Catholic priest and is open to all.
Video: Youth group Mariachi Tesoro de Tucson wows the 2014 audience.
Mariachi music is a familiar soundtrack in Tucson. The city is considered the birthplace of the youth mariachi group movement, beginning with Los Changuitos Feos (The Ugly Little Monkeys) in 1964 and continuing with public school programs and Tucson International Mariachi Conference workshops. Tucson's first mariachi band, El Mariachi Tucsonense, led the way in the 1950s.
A model for other mariachi festivals, the Tucson International Mariachi Conference was founded in 1982 and nurtured by such legends as Mariachi Vargas De Tecalitlán, Mariachi Cobre, the late Lola Beltrán, and Tucson native Linda Ronstadt. Her two Grammy Award-winning albums of classic mariachi songs learned while growing up in Tucson are a tribute to Ronstadt's own Mexican-American roots and expanded the audience for mariachi music.
Interested in more of Tucson’s borderland cultural heritage? Take the Best of the Barrio Culinary Tour or visit the Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food district. Tour Mission San Xavier del Bac, Presidio San Agustin, and Tubac Presidio State Historic Park. Browse the Raices Taller 222 Art Gallery and the Tucson Museum of Art’s Latin American Art collection, or watch an original play at Borderlands Theater.
If you visit in early November, don't miss All Souls Procession weekend, a totally Tucson take on All Soul's Day and Mexico's Day of the Dead. On any Wednesday evening, you can stream mariachi songs as part of the mix of old and new Latin music on Tucson's community radio station, KXCI 91.3 FM.
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