Sad times have struck the people of Chapala over the past four weeks, immersing them in mourning as influential individuals in the community’s musical scene have gone to their graves in rapid succession.
The Grim Reaper delivered his first blow with the April 1 with the death of José Manuel Martínez Villanueva after prolonged battle against terminal cancer. He was recognized as lakeside’s first master of the salterio (psaltery), a box instrument laid in the lap and played by plucking its strings. Manuel also possessed vocal talents that turned him into a founding member of the Voces de Chapala chorus in 1974. He stepped up as the troupe’s director from 1979 to 1994, leading it on performance tours in the United States, Canada and Europe. He played the psaltery with Orquesta Típica de Chapala from its foundation in 2010 until two years ago when illness hampered his abilities.
The next man down was former Chapala mayor José Guadalupe Padilla Castañeda who died on April 10. Aside from his political career, he joined the Rondalla de Chapala ensemble at its 1976 founding, taking over as director from 1980 to 1995. He also played drums with the now defunct Lake Power Band rock group.