"At first, it did take a little bit of time to get used to it, but after a while seeing everyone smile and then also the audience participate, you kind of, that nervousness, it just goes away," guitarist said Emily Cortes about performing on stage. Teresa Acosta | The Poly Post

Photo essay: Los Broncos bring mariachi classics to CPP

By Teresa Acosta, May 7, 2024

Guitars, violins, trumpets, guitarrons, a vihuela, a flute and a harp. With 18 members on stage for the spring Music Recital Concert, the Mariachi Los Broncos de Pomona performed traditional music from different regions of Mexico and one original song April 30. 

Harmonies from Riane Ferras, Andrea Herrera and Emily Cortes filled the hallway that leads to stage left. The three women did one last run-through while waiting to be called onstage.  

“As long as your group has a good vibe, you know, everyone is enjoying it everyone is smiling then the group is good,” Cortes said about working with this team of musicians.

Emily Cortes warms up her vocal cords to prepare for her performances of “Costumbres” and “El Noa Noa.” Teresa Acosta | The Poly Post
Backstage, guitarists Riane Ferras, Juan Nuñez, Emily Cortes and Joey Vallejo make last-minute adjustments as they wait to take the stage. Teresa Acosta | The Poly Post

The audience was filled with family, friends, fellow music students and members of the CPP community. Tickets were $15 for general admission and $10 for students and people over 65. Jessie M. Vallejo, co-director of the concert, said the money raised by ticket sales will be used to update some of the pieces of the uniform that are loaned to the ensemble members for performances. Students currently provide their own white dress shirts and black pants to complete the Traje de Charro or suit. 

The mariachi uniforms, which are dark green with gold embroidery, are provided for the performers through grants and fundraising, according to Jessie M. Vallejo, associate professor of ethnomusicology and co-director of the concert. Teresa Acosta | The Poly Post
Trumpeters Nathan Navarro and Mikayla Mendez demonstrate the techniques they have learned in their Mariachi class as part of CPP’s Music Department. Teresa Acosta | The Poly Post

A special guest joined the ensemble on stage for a mariachi rendition of his original song “Yellow Tangerines.” Nicholas Vela, lead singer of the Raccoon Cartoons’, sang alongside guitarist Andrea Herrera for a soft, emotional crooning of the song.  

“I feel as though it was such a touching rendition as we were able to incorporate our Mexican culture and showcase a beautiful blend between two genres,” said Herrera. 

Vela’s lyrics are dedicated to his late grandfather explained Herrera, something she could relate to as she thought of her own late grandmother. 

“The touching lyrics remind me of my childhood,” said Herrera. “As I think back on memories I created with my family as a kid and how I view them now as I’m older.” 

Andrea Herrera duets with guest singer Nicholas Vela, of the Raccoon Cartoons, for the original song “Yellow Tangerines.” The version used for this performance was modified to give it a mariachi sound. Teresa Acosta | The Poly Post
Alan Montes, the flutist of the group, adds bright tones to songs like “El Gusto” and “Alta y Delgadita.” Teresa Acosta | The Poly Post

Los Broncos consists of students who are enrolled in the Mariachi music class. Although joining the ensemble is open to students of any major, to be admitted to the class they must go through an audition and have some traditional mariachi instrument experience. Singing is required and the ability to speak Spanish is helpful but not mandatory. 

After singing lead on “El Siete Leguas,” Joey Vallejo looks out to the nearly sold-out audience. Teresa Acosta | The Poly Post
“At first, it did take a little bit of time to get used to it, but after a while seeing everyone smile and then also the audience participate, you kind of, that nervousness, it just goes away,” guitarist Emily Cortes said about performing on stage. Teresa Acosta | The Poly Post

Most recently Los Broncos were part of the celebration and performed at the Cinco De Mayo Luncheon at Centerpointe May 2. Next, they will be hosting Guillermo “Willie” Acuña of Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez, as part of their master class series May 8. 

Francisco Hernandez thanks the student-musicians who come from all different majors and departments. Hernandez joined the Los Broncos in 2022 as the co-director, lecturer and armonía instructor. Teresa Acosta | The Poly Post

Feature image courtesy of Teresa Acosta

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