Tradition with a twist. This is what audience members can expect at Los Cantantes del Lago’s spring concert next week, featuring Mariachi Real Axixic.
Titled “Roots: Folk Music of North America,” the concert’s theme was developed through a collaboration between two gifted and innovative musical artists living at Lakeside – Timothy G. Ruff Welch, music director of Los Cantantes del Lago, and Daniel Medeles, founder and music director of Mariachi Real Axixic.
The two met several years ago when Medeles, then 16, joined Los Cantantes as a choir member.
“I wanted to learn more about music and singing, especially from Tim who is considered one of the very best choral directors,” says Medeles. “And I wanted to get to know people from around the world.”
Los Cantantes is known for its diversity, both in age and nationality. Choir members range in age from 15 to 86 and the group currently has 52 members
“The reason I love singing with Los Cantantes is because this group is different than other groups in Mexico,” Medeles says. “They’re here to help you, support you and lift you up.”
Medeles formed his mariachi group last year. Unlike most contemporary mariachi bands in Jalisco, his group features only one trumpet, as well as a flute, in addition to violins, vihuela (a high-pitched, five-string guitar) and guitarrón (a small-scaled acoustic bass).
Medeles has made quite a contribution to the music scene at Lakeside during his young life. In addition to being a talented tenor, he plays five instruments (violin, guitar, viola, bass, percussion).
Married and the father of toddler twin boys, Medeles co-founded and co- directs several musical groups for children in addition to performing in his mariachi group and a new musical group he has formed, the Coxala Project, an ever-changing ensemble of musicians who perform in Spanish and English.
In 2015, Medeles co-founded the children’s orchestra based in San Juan Cosalá – Orquesta Filarmónica Infantil de la Ribera de Chapala. In 2016, a children’s choir was added. Under Medeles’ leadership, these two groups have now evolved to become an important school consisting of more than 100 students from Lakeside and Ixtlahuacan, known as Musica Para Crecer (music to grow by).
Not one to slow down, Medeles recently started a children’s mariachi – Mariachi Infantil Cosalá. The group consists of 14 children, each of whom are members of the San Juan Cosalá children’s choir and orchestra.
Last year, Welch pitched the idea of collaborating on the Los Cantantes spring concert to Medeles, and he was immediately on board. The two brainstormed ideas for combining the choir with mariachi and decided on several traditional Mexican folk songs, with special arrangements by Medeles. Welch has chosen to round out the program with folk songs from Canada and the United States. The choir will be performing pieces in Spanish, French and English.
According to Welch, the common thread among all the pieces in this concert is that each evokes a sense of nostalgia, no matter which of the countries you may be from.
“These are songs that are accessible and hummable, considered simple music with incredible composers,” he says. “And we’ve chosen very artistic arrangements to very traditional tunes.”
The Welch/Medeles collaboration doesn’t stop there. Older members of the children’s choir are now performing with Los Cantantes.
Says Medeles, “I had been working with these kids for the past four years. Because they’ve advanced, I wanted to expose them to a higher level of choral music and also meet and work with singers from other cultures, just like I did.”
“Roots: Folk Music of North America” will be performed on Tuesday, March 26, 7 p.m. and Wednesday, March 27, 4 p.m. at the Auditorio de la Ribera. Tickets are 250 pesos and can be purchased at Diane Pearl Colecciones, Mia’s Boutique, Auditorio de la Ribera or at loscantantesdellago.com. Discounts are available for Mexican-born citizens, available only through members of Los Cantantes del Lago.