Courtesy of Zamantha Lopez Aldaco

Music at UR usually evokes images of the Eastman School of Music, the last concert by the Midnight Ramblers or various student ensembles.  But one unique venture into collegiate music that shouldn’t be overlooked is UR’s own mariachi band, creatively entitled Mariachi Meliora.

A relatively new ensemble, it was started by junior, and now music director, Zamantha Lopez Aldaco in the spring of 2010. Since then, Mariachi Meliora has been steadily gaining popularity, evidenced by their recent gig at a wedding in Buffalo, N.Y. Aldaco, along with publicity director and junior Alicia Gorina, spoke with us to give us an inside look into the fusion of mariachi and marital bliss that took place a few weeks ago.

How did you get hired for the wedding?

Zamantha Lopez Aldaco: We were pleasantly surprised when we were asked to play in the wedding by the bride who wanted to surprise her groom. She had googled mariachi bands in upstate New York and according to her, we were the only one.

Alicia Gorina: They searched for a mariachi band in Buffalo, N.Y. and found our Facebook page. They came to us in April, asking if we would be able to perform in September.

How was Mariachi Meliora’s  experience at the wedding?

ZLA: We had a great time at the wedding. The groom was Australian and many of his friends and family from Australia were new to mariachi music and really enjoyed it. The highlight of the performance for us, besides the great crowd interaction and applause, was when the groom danced with the group during the song “Guantanamera.”

Did the bride or groom have a UR affiliation?

AG: Neither the bride nor groom has a UR affiliation — they are not even from Rochester. The bride is from Buffalo and the groom from Sydney.

Do you think people respond differently to mariachi music? What makes it unique compared to any other music group?

AG: Usually our audiences do not have experience with mariachi music. I think this makes our group unique because we play songs that many people don’t recognize. We try to steer away from the stereotypical songs like “La Cucaracha” and instead play traditional mariachi songs that represent Mexican culture.

ZLA: Mariachi music is not as common on the East coast as it is on the West coast. Here at UR, though, people are surprised to see a mariachi band performing. Mariachi Meliora is different from other groups because we bring to the table a whole new genre of music. The style of music is also very different from others and has been something all of the members have had to work on. The singers have to sing without their head voice and must have a powerful and soulful sound. The violins must use a lot of bow in the songs to get the style of the mariachi. The trumpet way of playing is also different — most of the songs are very staccato and are in unusual keys. And finally the guitarist, instead of plucking, has to learn different strums that go along with the melody.

Olfano is a member of the class of 2012.

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