Long Beach – The Museum of Latin American Art hosted its annual Día de Los Muertos event, Sunday, November 3, 2019, from 10:00am-5pm.
Día de Los Muertos celebrations highlight the cycles of life while remembering deceased loved ones with alters. Día de Los Muertos is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico the Central and South regions and by people of Mexican heritage elsewhere. The multi-day holiday involves family and friends gathering to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died and help support their spiritual journey. In Mexican culture, death is viewed as a natural part of the human cycle.
MOLAA’s annual family festival invited the community to explore Día de Los Muertos, a vibrant celebration of life and loved ones. Attendees left the program with a greater understanding and awareness of this cultural tradition through inter-active workshops, live performances, gallery tours, an interactive community altar, face painting, food and unique artisan vendors.
I must say that I was impressed with MOLAA’s annual Día de Los Muertos event. This was a magnificent production that thoroughly engaged, entertained and informed the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic crowd in attendance.
The day got underway with an Aztec Ceremony lead by Kalpulli Tlaltekuhtli Aztec Dancers. The Día de Los Muertos also featured Prayer and remembrance of friends and family members who have died. MOLAA’s Día de Los Muertos also celebrated the future full of dreams and hopes of children. Children’s and their parents of Semillitas Pre-School participated in a spirit-filled Procession from Robert Gumbiner Park to MOLAA with Kalpulli Tlaltekuhtli Aztec Dancers.
MOLAA’s Viva Event Center was brimming with lots of activities, art workshops, Sugar Skull decorating, Face paintings, while DJ Eusebio Akasa provided an eclectic soundtrack to enhance the experience. Additional activities consisted of Docent-led tours of the Galleries, children’s storytime with the Long Beach Library, Hyundai booth with a variety of exciting giveaways.
MOLAA’s Sculpture Garden featured some amazing performances. The caliber of entertainment was top notched and simply awesome.
The show kicked off with a dual bill of LA Opera’s Zarzuela Project with Mariachi Voz de America. Mariachi Voz de America and The Mariachi Conservatory is under the Direction of Richard Mata. Mariachi Voz de America performed classic tunes by famous composers “Pasodoble” from El Gato Montes composed by Manuel Penella (1880-1939), “Granada” by Augustine Lara (1897-1970) performed superbly by Richard Mata, baritone. The show continued with “La Negra” by Silvestre Vargas (1901-1985) and Ruben Fuentes (1926-) followed by an original huapango entitled “La Noche.”
La Opera Zarzuela Project alternated between performances by Mariachi Voz de America. Their brilliant program opened with an uplifting “Ya Mis Horas Felices” from La del Soto del Parral performed by Abdiel Gonzalez, baritone, Teaching Artist, LA Opera Zarzuela Project. The show continued with De Espana Vengo’ from El Nino Judio, song masterfully by Melodee Fernandez, soprano, Director and Lead Teaching Artist, LA Opera Zarzuela Project. The crowd and I sat in awe and appreciation of each performance including “Seguidilla” from La Verbena de La Paloma, “Largo al Factotum” from II Barbiere di Siviglia, “La Petenera” from La Marchenera, performed by Melodee Fernandez, soprano. The finale consisted of “Pasodoble” from La Boda de Luis Alonso, featuring Ana-Lupe Morado-dancer, Caroline Russek- castanets, and Mariachi Voz de America. Pianist Vivian Liu was stellar as an accompanist throughout the program.
Ballet Folklorico Nueva Antequera was founded by Miriam Lopez and Raul Cortes on October 2, 1999 in the city of Los Angeles. Mr. Cortes is Executive Director, Miriam Lopez-Artistic Director. Its mission is to preserve and promote the traditional music and dances of Oaxaca in Los Angeles. This year marks their 20th Anniversary with captivating performances of indigenous dances representing the seven regions of Oaxaca. Their spectacular performance Grand Finale consisted of the wonderful “.” Oaxaca is a multiethnic culture that is recognized for its authenticity. 300 years of history, tradition and cultural heritage make Oaxaca a magical place.
Marqueos Music Philharmonic Band directed by Estanislao Marqueos accompanied Ballet Folklorico Nueva Antequera. This tremendously talented band consist of band members ranging in age from five to 20 years old. The band enjoys widespread prestige throughout the music industry.
MOLAA’s Día de Los Muertos celebration concluded with the contagious sounds of cumbia, merengue and vallenato performed jubilantly by Los Caciques Del Caribe.
Rick Richardson is a Southern California based writer, music reviewer and photographer. Contact him via: [email protected]