The traditional folk music of New Mexico has been celebrated for the past 16 years at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe with Nuestra Música, a concert celebrating the music traditions of the state.
In April this year, the Lensic was filled to capacity to hear some of New Mexico's most renowned musicians, including Roberto Mondragon, Frank McCulloch, Antonia Apodaca and more. KNME New Mexico PBS filmed the concert and presented it on August 24, 2016.
KUNM’s Chris Boros spoke with the co-founder of the program, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Spanish at the University of New Mexico, Enrique Lamadrid.
KUNM: Tell me about this music. Is this music you grew up with? Was this in your house growing up? How did you find this stuff?
Lamadrid: Well, the folk traditions of New Mexico eventually find you. If you don’t live in a traditional community, you might not ever hear it. And it’s something that you hear at traditional weddings. That you hear at dances. There’s a whole sphere of musical influence here that comes into play that’s just invisible or inaudible to a lot of people. There’s this whole other musical landscape. New Mexico is kind of a segregated place in a lot of cultural ways and so we’re really crossing boundaries.
KUNM: Is there a style or a musical vocabulary in these songs that distinguishes them as New Mexico? Like when you hear a song that’s from New Mexico can you as an expert go, ‘Oh, that’s New Mexico because he or she is playing this way, or he or she is singing this way?’
Lamadrid: You can tell. There are certain genres that are kind of New Mexico’s gift to the world. One thing you’ll hear in the show tonight is several inditas. The indita is a type of really intercultural music. It’s often narrative ballots but it can also be religious music. Like one of the pieces is an indita for the Virgin of Guadalupe. These are instantly recognizable.
KUNM: Let’s talk about a couple of the artists that are on tonight. Frank McCulloch. This guy is like a walking encyclopedia of this music. Isn’t that right?
Lamadrid: Frank is terrific. He comes from a railroad family. He’s from a very traditional New Mexican family. This guy learned hundreds of songs.
KUNM: We have to talk about the woman who closes out the show. Ninety-three year old accordion player and singer Toni Apodaca and she is so much fun to watch. I mean she really gets into this still.
Lamadrid: Yeah, she has a great time. Music is her life and she really loves working the audience and you’ll see all of that tonight. You will hear the energy of New Mexico in this music. You’ll hear the creativity of its people. You can hear the spirit of this place that we all love so much.