By Liz Lopez

The Austin Public Library’s Hispanic Heritage Month activities feature The Bronze Community Band Project that presents “Tribute To La Musica Chicana, The History and Influences on Music by Mexican American Musicians,” the second of a series with a music performance art piece that chronicles the influence and history on the Mexican American culture from indigenous to the 1920s -1960. The Bronze Community Band is a group of seasoned musicians that will perform a myriad of music performed over the years, including Indigenous, Tex-Mex, Chicano rhythm and blues, cumbias, boleros, oldies and much more that reflects the creativity by Mexican American musicians. Robert Rivera Ojeda, Musical Director, will introduce each song with historical information.

The Bronze Community Band Project musicians are: Robert Rivera Ojeda – bass, keyboard, vocals;  Jean Jacques (JJ) Barrera – Bajo-sexto, guitar, bass, vocals & UT College of Fine Arts Conjunto (Ensemble) class co-director, and plays with Johnny Degollado y su Conjunto, the Tailgators and others; Ramiro Pedraza – alto & tenor sax; Frank Rodriguez, drums, and Edward Coronado – sax, trumpet, and keyboard. Long term member of the Bronze Band, Ernesto Calderon (Trumpet, Flugelhorn & Project Coordinator), will not be performing after all for personal reasons.

Invited guest performers include Leti Garza, singer/songwriter/artist, who will provide her amazing vocal talent. In 2015, she was invited to perform at the XXI International Festival de Las Romerías de Mayo, Holguín, Cuba; Jonas Alvarez, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and award winning songwriter; John Michael, a young emerging artist on guitar; and the Son Jarocho musical project, Güateque Son, that specializes in regional folk music from the state of Veracruz, Mexico with a Tejano edge based in Austin. 

Ramon Hernandez, Musicologist, Latino music archivist, and photojournalist who recently had his papers and Tejano music artifacts and memorabilia acquired by The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University, will also present historical information on Austin musicians and other data acquired. 

The Bronze Community Band Project is an initiative to create a community – based music ensemble. The project creator, Robert Rivera Ojeda, was looking for musicians “who wanted to dig deeper into the cultural roots of Chicano music.” The call for musicians went out in 2018 and then the Sunday afternoon rehearsals began at The Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center [ESB – MACC] who provided the space for the rehearsals for the community collaborators. The first “Tribute to la Musica Chicana” presentation was held in September 2018.

The program is a vehicle for showcasing traditional and contemporary works of Mexican American music performance art that involves the research, preservation and presentation of the music. The collaboration with the ESB-MACC allows for archiving the works as part of the artistic growth and participation of the Mexican American community in Austin. The project provides organized rehearsals detailing protocols for music performance opportunities to musicians of all ages in the city. There is also community-based research and dialogues addressing the needs for promoting Austin’s Mexican American music performance and history. 

The event will be held Sunday September 22, 2019, from 2pm to 5pm at the Austin Central Public Library, 710 W. Cesar Chavez St.  Admission is free and family friendly. For more information, visit http://library.austintexas.gov/event/programs-workshops/tribute-la-musica-chicana-662998

The event is open to the public and there is no admission fee. This project is supported in part by Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.

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