Celia Jiménez excited about a new music program Youth Orchestra Salinas will offer for young musicians in the tri-county area: regional Mexican music. 

It all started when students began asking Eliodoro Vallecillo, the brass specialist at YOSAL and leader of 4to Prestigio—a regional Mexican music group—to play Mexican songs. He reached out to his coworkers and suggested starting this program. 

“I have all this expertise in regional Mexican music, and there’s a market for it and people want this kind of music,” Vallecillo says. He has experience in both classic and regional Mexican music and plays the french horn and the accordion.

Vallecillo wants students to have “an opportunity to also create music that they grew up with, or their parents grew up with, and that is kind of popular with the community.”

Auditions to be part of the banda/mariachi program are open and young musicians are encouraged to apply, even if they don’t play any instrument typical to Mexican music. “We’re arranging the music to allow them to play, regardless of the instrument that they play,” Vallecillo says. 

Students can submit their auditions online. They can also request an in-person audition if they are having internet issues. The performances should be one to two minutes long and it could be a solo work for the instrument they play or an excerpt from an ensemble. “It doesn’t have to be Mexican music, because obviously that’s what we’re here to teach them,” Vallecillo points out. The submission can be a song they are playing in their school music program or from their marching band. 

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The audition doesn’t have to be perfect the first time. Vallecillo recommends that young musicians record themselves several times and submit the one recording that sounds best to them. Students up to age 18 can file submissions and Vallecillo encourages younger students to participate. “It’s more about their playing ability,” he explains. The auditions are open for kids in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties. The last day students can submit their video audition is Monday, Dec. 19.

Vallecillo says besides learning Mexican songs, he wants students to play alongside professional artists—similar to what they will do on Dec.10, when he and his group 4to Prestigio will play with YOSAL during its winter concert.

As a person who listens to regional Mexican music regularly and has enjoyed hearing the styles played with non-traditional instruments, I can’t wait to see the results of this new venture.

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