Brenda Brito Ornelas performs “Tata Dios” alongside the rest of Los Caballeros de Cal Poly Pomona last Thursday night. ASHLY HERNANDEZ | THE POLY POST

Mariachi takes the stage in the Music Recital Hall

Mariachi Los Broncos y Los Caballeros de Cal Poly Pomona have been busy with practices and performances this year as their ensemble continues to grow. 

On April 11, the ensemble took to the Music Recital Hall stage in its annual performance for family, friends, students, alumni, faculty, staff and lovers of mariachi music to enjoy. 

The packed house was invited to sing, dance and grito (an excited Mexican yell) throughout the night. 

Jessie M. Vallejo, who received her master’s and doctorate in ethnomusicology from UCLA, is an experienced performer and violinist with mariachi groups around the Los Angeles area. 

Brenda Brito Ornelas performs “Tata Dios” alongside the rest of Los Caballeros de Cal Poly Pomona last Thursday night. (Ashly Hernandez / The Poly Post)

She reintroduced Los Broncos de Pomona in winter quarter of 2016 and created Los Caballeros de Cal Poly Pomona as a beginner course, after peaked interest from new and current students wanting to play mariachi music. 

“I had UCLA in my mind, but here I could start at a level that was good for me,” said Brenda Brito Ornelas, a first-year music industry studies student. 

Ornelas began performing mariachi when she was 9 years old. She is a vocalist and guitarist for Los Caballeros and sang “Tata Dios” at Thursday night’s concert. 

Ornelas was also featured in a Billboard article about mariachi and Latin American culture prospering in Los Angeles, even in the face of Trump’s antagonistic policies regarding immigration, Mexicans and Mexican Americans.

The group performed as part of the 28th annual Mariachi Festival and Fiesta Anual de Santa Cecilia in Boyle Heights in November. 

St. Cecilia is the saint of musicians, singers and music. 

On her wedding day, she sang to God and held strong to her vow to remain a virgin. 

Catholics celebrate St. Cecilia on November 22 and some musicians believe she will help them to perform their best.

All the students in Los Broncos y Los Caballeros have a love for music and Vallejo encourages their passions.

Jesse Flores is a history student who has decided to change his major to music education.

“I’ve always loved history, but something didn’t feel right. After speaking to Dr. Vallejo, she noticed that something was up and said I should think about changing my major,” Flores said. 

Flores plays the guitarrón, bass, trumpet and violin. 

He is a member of Los Broncos and sang alongside Jesús Esquer in “El Súchil.”

The night was full of recognition and appreciation. 

Mothers were asked to stand up in honor of Mother’s Day and el Día de las Madres in May. 

Kim Guenette is the music department’s administrative support coordinator, and Los Broncos will be performing at her farewell celebration in May. 

“She does everything for us,” Vallejo said.

Vallejo also had to step in for a student unable to make the event. 

She performed with Los Caballeros in their performance of “Cruz de Olvido” and sang alongside vocalist and flute player Madeleine Wells. 

The graduating seniors were honored at the closing of the night. 

At the end, Los Broncos y Los Caballeros performed an instrumental by Vallejo called “El Caballito,” to honor the CPP mascot. 

“Caballo” is Spanish for horse and “caballito” means little horse.

However, after shouts of “otra, otra, otra” (“another,” or encore), the ensemble closed out to celebrate any birthdays with “Las Mañanitas,” the traditional Mexican birthday song. It is also popular in other Latin countries. 

“Mariachi music is not musically intricate, but it speaks to people,” performer Nathaniel Salvatierra said. 

Salvatierra is a fourth-year music performance student and a member of Los Broncos since it began. 

“You can use the same two or three chords, but it’s the message that draws people to the music.”

Knowing the meaning behind the music is important, but even if you don’t know Spanish, you can still appreciate the talents of the musicians. Los Broncos de Pomona have come a long way and only continue to grow. From 16 musicians to 40, mariachi music is making some big noise on campus.   

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