May 2015

Querido Mexico

In my 20's I had the privilege to visit Mexico with my friends, the Aguirre family. One summer we all piled into a van loaded with friends and relatives and drove from Kansas City to Ciudad Manuel Doblado in Guanajuato, Mexico. The music that was selected for the ride was a constant mix of Vicente Fernandez (mariachi) and Banda music from Northern Mexico. I remember feeling the music was really silly and over emotional and I certainly could not connect with it. Those of you that know me can attest that this is certainly not the case now. Guitar in hand, I learned Mexican songs in various social gatherings that often lasted over 24 hours. I also took my Mamiya c330 camera with me so please have a look at some of the images. Upon returning to KC I did a small tenure with Trio Atzlan at Manny's where I learned even more songs and styles. Mexico is still my favorite country and I absolutely love the music. I've been back many times since that first trip and Mexico never fails to surprise me in some artistic way. Please join me May 30th as Ensemble Ibérica presents Querido Mexico (Dear Mexico) at the Carlsen Center in JCCC. This concert is basically a love letter to Mexico and a celebration of its many musical styles.

- Beau Bledsoe

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Salvador's pirekua

The Purépecha are truly amazing people. They established their state in the 14th century in what is now Michoacán. From my experience they are incredibly gentle and kind but are capable of formidable strength in adverse situations. In what appears to be one of the only bright stories in the Conquest of Mexico, Michoacán was appointed the Spanish bishop, Vasco de Quiroga in the early 16th century. Quiroga was a true utopianist and attempted to make the now famous once pueblos (eleven towns) each a center of a particular industry. Each citizen worked six hours a day and contributed on an equal basis to the common welfare. One of these pueblos, Paracho, was given the trade of European instrument building. This small pueblo is surrounded by a wealth of trees and beautiful mountains which make it ideal for this activity. Paracho, Michoacán and Cremona, Italy are thought to be the last two towns in the world dedicated to building string instruments. As a mecca for guitar players, Paracho receives guests from all over the world on a daily basis. Everyone’s father is the “greatest builder” and it’s quite easy to play hundreds of instruments in one day. I’ve been visiting Paracho since my early 20’s and there I met my good friend and business partner, Salvador Castillo in 2002. He’s a brilliant guitar maker and a better player than many professionals. We started this business together in 2003 and he’s become a real force in the international guitar market. For our Ensemble Ibérica concert on May 30th, 2015, I’ve decided to honor our friendship by transcribing and performing his version of the Purépecha pirekua, Male Consuelito. Both Michael McClintock and I will be performing this music on instruments that Salvador built for us.

- Beau Bledsoe

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