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American Sabor Celebrates the Heritage of Latino Musicians in the Fresno Valley
Last month, American Sabor made the fifth stop on its national tour at Arte Américas: Casa de la Cultura in Fresno, California. Arte Américas premiered the exhibition during a special reception that served as the kick-off to a series of community programs and events, such as music and dance workshops, a Latin music film series, a contest to select the best youth Latin bands and vocalists in the Fresno region,and an exclusive teacher preview of the exhibition. The reception offered guests the opportunity to not only experience American Sabor, but also view an exhibit added by Arte Américas to showcase Mexican musicians from the Fresno region.
The added exhibit, aptly named “Sabor del Valle,” includes photos and posters of various Fresno and San Joaquin Valley artists during the “Golden Years” of Hispanic music in the area, from about 1940 to 1980. This was a period when all of the major Mexican and Latino types of musical ensembles sprouted roots and flourished in a highly active musical community, including the orquestra, the tejano/norteño conjunto, the mariachi and the cancionero, including the vocal trio.
The exhibit highlights artists such as the orquestras of Manuel Contreras, Frank Bernal and Ray Camacho and the Teardrops; the legendary tejano band of Beto Villa with its polca ranchera style; the mariachi bands Los Gavilanes, El Mariachi Guadalajara and El Mariachi de la Tierra, organized in 1975 by Steve Alcala and Tony Manjarrez; and the cancioneros Luis and Carmen Moreno of El Dueto Moreno, who settled in Fresno and became part of its musical life.
The Moreno’s daughter, Carmencristina Moreno, became a composer and performer of considerable skill, winning the Bess Lomax Hawes Award, the most prestigious prize awarded to folksingers. Carmencristina, grew up in Fresno and Jalisco, Mexico, becoming linguistically and musically bilingual, and was influenced by various Mexican/Latin musical styles, like ranchera, as well as by the music of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Joni Mitchell. She still continues to perform the ranchera and a variety of styles to this day and is still active in the Fresno cultural community. Carmencristina was among the guests at the American Sabor reception held on November 15th.
Visitors can view “Sabor del Valle,” along with the rest of the American Sabor exhibit, now through January 20, 2013 at Arte Américas. Admission is free to the public.
Image: Carmencristina Moreno (center), accompanied by Joe Avila (left), community outreach manager, Ford Motor Company Fund, and Evelyn Figueroa (right), project director, Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, at Fresno’s Arte AméricasAmerican Sabor opening reception.