San Diego – The Day of the Dead will be celebrated on both sides of the border by the Mariachi Champaña Nevin ensemble, which both in Tijuana and in San Diego will make a "musical offering" to the souls of deceased musical icons like Pedro Infante and Jorge Negrete.
Nevin will appear Nov. 1 at the Tijuana Cultural Center together with mariachi Femenil Garibaldi, soprano Monica Abrego, tenor Jorge Lopez Yanez and Rafael Jorge Negrete, the grandson of legendary charro singer Jorge Negrete.
San Diego's Balboa Theater will feature the same program on Nov. 3, as well as the Ballet Folklorico de Hesperia - Flores del Desierto.
Trumpeter and band leader Jeff Nevin told Efe that the shows will highlight the cultural continuity between California and Mexico.
"In terms of its development, mariachi music has reached a point in its evolution where it is moving in parallel with other great genres like the European (classical) tradition, the music of India and jazz, among others. These concerts are not only about popular culture and Mexican traditions but also about the quality this genre has achieved," Nevin said.
Mariachi Champaña Nevin has 23 musicians in the band and is known for working with schools where it has involved more than 1,000 students.
In previous concerts, Nevin, professor of music and director of mariachi activities at Southwestern College in Chula Vista near San Diego, has conducted an orchestra of local students in a musical fusion of Mozart and mariachi, the reason he says the genre "is rising to the category of virtuosity."
The musician took his doctor of music degree at the University of California, San Diego with the premiere of his composition "Concerto for Mariachi and Orchestra" by the La Jolla Symphony.
Nevin is one of the few musicians in the world to do academic research into the mariachi genre, to the point that it has been incorporated into the curriculum at Southwestern, the first academic institution in the United States to offer a degree in mariachi studies.
Southern California is an area rich in the production of mariachi music, and schools in San Diego County have a K-12 program directed by Nevin.
For example, of the 20 high schools in the Sweetwater School District in the town of Chula Vista, 14 have mariachi bands.
Nevin is exloring the connections between classical music and mariachi, making transcriptions with Mexican influences of classical compositions and strengthening mariachi string sections to achieve that goal.