Mariachi Campanas de America
Characterizing the music of Campanas de America as simply “mariachi” does not describe the entire musical spectrum produced by this group of multi-talented musicians. This premier American musical ensemble is made so distinct by its’ ability to combine traditional Mexican mariachi music with Latin and mainstream pop rhythms. From the traditional folkloric “La Negra” to toe-tapping, boot-scootin “Lone Star Medley”, Campanas de America typifies the essence of what it means to be a Mexican-American.
Under the charge of Musical Director, Juan Ortiz, Campanas de America appeals to a wide audience. Young, old, Spanish and non-Spanish speaking are fascinated with the sights and sounds of this modern day, maverick mariachi group. Often times, spectators are so moved by the music that they forge an impromptu dance floor in mid-performance. Dancing coupled with “gritos”, or Mexican yells of enthusiasm, transforms a Campanas concert into an instant fiesta.
Founded in 1978 in San Antonio, TX, Campanas de America (Bells of America) was named after Belle Ortiz, Juan’s wife and the group’s manager. Through their tireless efforts and dedication, the troupe quickly gained national recognition and public support, and has attributed much of its’ success to the philosophy that “education is key”. Campanas has and continues to be one of the main forces behind mariachi education programs in public schools. Much so, that several of the members of Campanas are instructors in various public school musical programs in their hometown of San Antonio, TX.
There are many factors that make Campanas an innovative mariachi and none is most apparent than the presence of the accordion, keyboards, and percussive instruments. The introduction of these instruments gives Campanas unmatched versatility and enhances the non-traditional music.
Through the years, Campanas de America has gained broader national and international recognition from performances across the country. In fact, they are the first and only mariachi to display an instrument at the internationally recognized Hard Rock Café. Their list of appearances are numerous and just to name a few include:
Aladdin Casino, Las Vegas Willie Nelson Farm Aid
Bally’s Hotel & Casino Austin Music Hall, (in conjunction w/ SXSW) Kumamoto Festival, Japan Hollywood Bowl
The Kennedy Center for San Antonio Symphony Pops Concert(s)
The Performing Arts Houston Symphony Concert-”Fiesta Sinfonica”
The Hispanic Heritage Awards
1996-Presidential Hispanic Inaugural Gala (Wash., D.C.)
2003-Performance at the White House for President & Mrs. Bush
In addition, Campanas continues to offer numerous mariachi workshops and concerts in schools as well as participate in “Grammy in the Schools”, a program through the national Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS). Campanas also continues to be featured artists at state fairs, festivals, and theme parks. Campanas’ popularity continues to increase, as they are quickly becoming a “national treasure”.