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San Antonio just celebrated the World Heritage designation of the Spanish-colonial Missions and the Alamo two weeks ago with the inaugural World Heritage Festival and Mission Pachanga, but the celebrations will continue this month – Hispanic Heritage Month – with the first Vitrina Latino Music & Culture Festival, an event highlighting San Antonio’s unique mezcla of Latino culture, music, art, and film.
The free celebration, which is a joint effort between the City’s Center City Development & Operations Department (CCDO) and Vitrina Founder and CEO Enrique Cortez, will take place this Saturday, Sept. 24 at Mission Marquee Plaza (3100 Roosevelt Ave.) from 3 p.m. to midnight. People of all ages are invited to attend the interactive event that is part of the City’s Hispanic Heritage Month programming.
“San Antonio is a city filled with immense artistic talent, culture and history,” Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (D3) stated in a news release. “I invite the entire community to experience through music, art and film the contribution of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.”
Vitrina is a Spanish word that translates to “showcase” in English.
“We want to be a showcase for Latino culture … in San Antonio, South Texas, and the nation,” said Cortez, referring to the long-term goal of the festival.
Latino culture is not only multi-faceted, but also has a lot of history and tradition. Cortez wants to raise awareness for a tradition he feels is often lost in modern society.
“The idea for the entire festival is to give our community and every community across the city an opportunity to view Latino culture from a new perspective,” he said.
The day-long festivities will feature a loose schedule of live music performances, as well as cultural panels and workshops. The local, all-female Mariachi Las Alteñas will take the stage from 3-3:30 p.m., then, youth from the Network for Young Artists will perform live music and dance throughout the afternoon, along with young singer Isabel Marie Sanchez.
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A panel discussion – Trovadores-Trios of SA – will take place at 4 p.m. at Mission Branch Library. Moderated by Mariachi Campanas de America‘s Anthony Medrano, the panel will explore the rich tradition of trios through an “inspiring dialogue on their legacy within the city and their impact on the music of San Antonio and beyond.”
The panelists, who have more than 100 combined years of musical experience between them – include master trio muscians Chepe Solis, John Aguilar, and others.
At 5:30 p.m., attendees can participate in a Mechanics of Mariachi workshop on the South Lawn at Mission Marquee, led by Mariachi Los Galleros.
“There are a lot of people who consume our (Latino) culture very passively,” Cortez said, “and one aspect is Mariachi music.”
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Marichi Los Galleros will break down the various aspects of Mariachi culture, including the music, instruments, voices, arrangements, and attire, Cortez said, “so the audience can come away with a better understanding of this complex cultural art form that they’ve probably experienced, but didn’t understand too well.”
The City will screen the movie Selena, chronicling the life of the late, beloved Tejano singer and performer Selena Quintanilla, at 8 p.m. at Mission Marquee Plaza. A Selena lookalike contest will take place beforehand. All participants must be in costume and lined at the stage entrance no later than 6:30 p.m., and the individual “who most closely resembles the spirit and appearance” of Selena will win a prize.
The night will conclude with a performance by local Latin-indie group, Volcán, at 10:30 p.m.
The Mission Marquee Plaza has gone through several renovation efforts including a mural re-creation project completed in 2013. City officials hope other events in the future continue to bring new life into the unique venue.
While Saturday will be Vitrina Fest’s debut, Cortez said that he hopes to expand the unique showcase to include Latino artists and performers from all over the region, drawing larger crowds each year. The next Vitrina event will be a Dia de los Muertos celebration in October, also at Mission Marquee Plaza.
Top image: Mission Marquee Plaza on opening day June 7, 2014. Photo by Lily Casura.