The annual “Viva el Mariachi! Festival” workshops will be held at California State University, Fresno on Saturday, Feb. 21 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at various locations starting at the Satellite Student Union.

The workshops are presented by Radio Bilinqüe, Inc. and co-sponsored by Fresno State as part of the station’s “Viva el Mariachi! Festival” which will be Sunday, Feb. 22 at Selland Arena.

At the Sunday festival, workshop participants will perform what they learned on Saturday.

Workshop registration on Saturday starts as early as 8 a.m. in the Satellite Student Union on campus. The welcome and a presentation addressing this year’s theme of “Celebrating the Arts” will begin at 9 a.m. Workshops conclude at 4:30 p.m.

Nati Cano, a National Heritage Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts, is the artistic director of the workshops. He heads Mariachi Los Camperos of Los Angeles, which will be the featured mariachi group at the festival on Sunday.

Cano’s troupe has received national acclaim for the quality of its music performing throughout the United States and Canada. Los Camperos has accompanied many famous vocalists, including Linda Ronstadt.

Cano is a third-generation musician who has worked to promote and preserve the cultural traditions of mariachi music for more than 30 years. He has taught Radio Bilingue’s mariachi workshops for many years, sharing his experiences and mariachi technique as well as his enthusiasm for traditional mariachi music.

“This is an opportunity for students of mariachi music to learn new skills and techniques from professional mariacheros — master musicians,” said Dr. Jeronima Echeverria, Fresno State’s provost and vice president of academic affairs ad interim whose office hosts the workshops on campus. “The workshops are an effective means of preserving and passing on the tradition of mariachi music.”

She said the Mariachi workshop holds a special significance for a multi-cultural campus like Fresno State, which has a 32.6 percent enrollment of Hispanic students. Those numbers have

gone up from 3, 814 in fall 1993 to 5, 786 in fall 2003, according to Mark Robinson of the office of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment located on campus.

Open to all ages, the workshops offer instruction for beginners, intermediate and advanced musicians on traditional instruments: violin, vihuela, guitar, guitarrón and trumpet. Instruction is also offered to students of voice.

A special feature added to the workshop choices for the third consecutive year is floreo de reata — the art of roping tricks — taught by the world-renown Los Hermanos Escamilla.

Beginners will be taught in separate classrooms by Mariachi Tenochtitlan, a local mariachi troupe, with Juan Morales, a mariachi music instructor from the South Valley.

Intermediate and advanced students will be taught ensemble-style by Cano and members of Los Camperos.

Registration fees are $55, subject to availability. Workshop registration fees include one day of instruction, lunch, sheet music, and admission to the festival on Sunday.

To register, contact the Alliance for California Traditional Arts at (559) 237-9812 or Radio Bilingüe, to speak with someone in Spanish, at (559) 455-5777.

Registration forms can also be downloaded from the Radio Bilingüe Web site at


Radio Bilingüe introduced the workshops to the “Viva El Mariachi! Festival” 11 years ago to allow interested individuals to work closely with mariachi masters who come to perform at the festival.

Radio Bilingue is a non-profit network of more than 65 radio stations serving Latinos throughout the United States, México, and Puerto Rico with news, music, drama and arts programming. Radio Bilingue is a non-profit five-station organization founded

The station was founded in 1976 to provide farm workers and low-income people with relevant educational, informational and cultural programming.

Founder and executive director Hugo Morales was a professor of Fresno State’s La Raza Studies Program at the time and he engaged Fresno State students to help him with research and organizing of fundraiser events such as the first mariachi festival in 1982.

He serves on the University Advisory Board and is currently its chairperson and was conferred on honorary doctoral degree by the CSU and Fresno State in 2000.

The workshops have been held annually at Fresno State.