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San Fernando’s Young Musicians Going to Nation’s Capitol PDF Print E-mail
Written by Diana Martinez   
Thursday, 15 November 2012 02:54

They are not only going to Washington, the young musicians in San Fernando's Mariachi Master Apprentice Program – Mariachi Tesoro de San Fernando -- are going to the White House.

"We are thrilled that we have been recognized nationally," said Virginia Diediker, City of San Fernando Cultural Arts Director. "The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities has selected our program as a finalist for 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award."

"This prestigious award is the nation's highest honor for an after-school arts programs." First Lady Michelle Obama will be presenting the award to the winning program during a special White House event There are 50 finalists nationwide who make up various art disciplines. "We are keeping our fingers crossed for our talented young musicians of MMAP," said San Fernando City Councilwoman Sylvia Ballin.

While the students, teachers and their families are nervously excited, Ballin said the students have already won what most could only imagine in their wildest dreams; they have been given the rare opportunity to visit the White House. Adding to their excitement, while in Washington, the young mariachi musicians will be performing and have a full schedule planned that will include:

- Nov. 18, 6 p.m. (EST): Kennedy Center Millenium Stage Performance. The one hour concert will be streamed live on their website. Those interested in listening to their performance can go to or

- Nov. 19: MMAP Mariachi Tesoro de San Fernando CD will be unveiled with their debut album "Cantares de Mi Tierra" which will go live on Itunes, Amazon, iHeartRadio, Spotify, and other web-based music stores.

- Nov. 20: The young musicians will be performing at two elementary schools (Glen Haven Elementary and Parkside Elementary) in the morning, followed by a lunch event with Class Acts Artists. Later that evening they will also perform at Glen Echo Park, which is a cultural arts center in Maryland.

Nov. 21: MMAP will be performing at Sargent Shriver Elementary School.

The City of San Fernando Mariachi Master Apprentice Program (MMAP), is a project that was first created in 2001 in collaboration with Nati Cano, founder of the world renowned Mariachi Los Camperos and the City of San Fernando Recreation and Community Services Department.

It began as an experiment to bring master musicians to teach local students, and has thrived to become a very successful award winning program.

MMAP students, from the northeast San Fernando Valley have a desire to study traditional Mexican music. At the same time, by sharing the love of music, the program, through the study of culturally-relevant musical traditions, also gives these young musicians the platform to discover and embrace pride in the heritage of their families, develop positive self-identities; and contribute as young performance artists preserving and disseminating the traditional arts.

Diediker points out that not only has the program developed talented young artists, it has helped the students in the classroom. "Studies have shown that youth engaged in arts programs, do better in school and help to build their success throughout their lives." It's believed that the success of MMAP is the program model that has been created to provide instruction to the students by uniting them with master musicians . The MMAP students are taught by members of Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano, that include Grammy Award-winning musical director, Jesus Guzman, Sergio Alonso, Jimmy Cuéllar and Juan Jiménez. Cano is considered to be the single-most important figure in the dissemination of mariachi music in the United States.

Alonso, also a music teacher at San Fernando High School points out the impact the program has had in the classroom. "Our MMAP students have a 100 percent graduation record and many of those who have graduated from our program have gone on to to top universities, including MIT, Stanford, UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine. Some of them have gone on to study music and have graduated with degress in music and others have even become professional musicians, said Alonso."

"Also, It's not every day children from our community get to go to Washington and be part of a White House event." said Alonso. That coupled with releasing their own album and sharing their music with students from other schools is such an exciting time for every one who has supported the program including the previous generations of those who have graduated from our program and it is testament to everyone's hard work and support."

Ballin said she and many others "here at home" plan on listening to the MMAP students performance at the Kennedy Center when it's streamed online on Sunday Nov. 18. "I have heard them play many times and they are always amazing, this time I will get to hear them live from the Kennedy Center. Wow. This is so special. We are so very, very proud of them." Ballin said.

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 November 2012 03:28