National University

Two Alumni Honored for Teaching Mariachi Music

Serafin Paredes and Wendy Charines will be recognized at March 12 event

Few would associate mariachi with Pagliacci, but an opera based upon the popular form of Mexican folk music is making its west coast premiere with two shows on March 16 at the San Diego Opera. Billed as “the first mariachi opera,” it has been described by the Houston Chronicle as a "stunning and emotional work."

Commissioned in celebration of the Mexican anniversaries of independence and revolution, Cruzar La Cara de Luna (To Cross the Face of the Moon) has already played to ecstatic reviews in Houston and Paris. This bilingual performance combines the talents of composer José “Pepe” Martinez, the music director of the storied Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, with eminent Broadway stage director and writer Leonard Foglia.

In conjunction with the San Diego production of Cruzar La Cara de Luna, a group of civic and philanthropic leaders have engaged the bi-national community to plan the first regional Mariachi Week. As a participant in Mariachi Week, the National University Center for Cultural and Ethnic Studies (NUCCES) will honor two alumni who have played a key role in preserving Mexican heritage and advancing diverse arts and culture mariachi music throughout the region.

Serafin Paredes (Master of Education, 2002) leads the mariachi band at San Diego High School and is founder of Mariachi Juvenil, a non-profit organization that focuses on the importance of music education. Wendy Charines (Master of Education, 2006) teaches mariachi, choir and orchestra at San Ysidro High School. A reception is being held on their behalf on Tuesday, March 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the National University Spectrum Academic Center in Kearny Mesa.

Mr. Paredes and Ms. Charines will lecture on the history and significance of Mariachi. Afterward, National University Interim President Patricia Potter will present both of them with a certificate of recognition and their students will perform live mariachi music. This event will be catered and is open to the public.

Additionally, the University will present tickets to a matinee performance of Cruzar la Cara de la Luna to some of the mariachi students who might not otherwise be able to attend. The tickets are being underwritten by National University and its alumni.

“Music is one of the best ways to teach and learn about other cultures,” says Maryam Davodi-Far, NUCCES Director and an assistant professor in the National University School of Professional Studies. “We are fortunate to claim many outstanding music teachers such as Serafin and Wendy as alumni (see related story), and the Center is proud to honor them. It is a great way to unite the community and celebrate our diverse cultures.”

To RSVP for the NUCCES tribute to Mr. Paredes, Ms. Charines and mariachi music, or for more information regarding the event, click here.