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Cantata for mariachi and orchestra

When the United States entered World War II, farmers were drafted to the front lines, leaving farm fields unattended.


To prevent crops from going to waste, the Mexican Agricultural Labor Agreement was signed in 1942. Better known as the bracero program, this binational treaty exported Mexican workers to harvest American crops. During the years of the program, more than three million Mexicans traveled to the northern fields as temporary laborers. The mutual benefits of the program for both day laborers and farmers led to its annual ratification until 1964, when the invention of harvesting machinery, the civil rights movement, and pressure from the National Farm Workers Association, led by Cesar Chavez, contributed to its cancellation. The plot of Braceros takes place in 1964, during the last year of the program.


Pedro serenades Consuelo with the intention of asking for her hand, but Jorge, the lady's father, bursts in demanding to know how they plan to support themselves. The groom plans to hire himself out as a bracero and save up to become a deserving son-in-law, but the father-in-law, who as a young man was a bracero in Texas, flatly refuses to support such a plan. In addition to being extorted by Mexican officials and exploited by American farmers, those who were hired in segregationist states suffered racism and discrimination, and Jorge bitterly recalled his bracero experience. In an attempt to dissuade the suitor from his plans, Jorge narrates in detail his youthful adventures in the pizca, while his wife Dolores highlights those positive aspects of the program that her husband prefers to omit, adopting a kinder stance towards his daughter.


However, Jorge's misfortunes fail to dissuade Pedro from his pretensions, and having learned from his own story that he was once a regional pizca champion, and that he was deported after causing lawsuits by cheating at gambling, he decides to issue him a challenge:


If the young man manages to defeat the old man in a pizca competition, the reluctant father will have to concede his daughter's betrothal. Consuelo listens in horror as her lover bets on her future marriage to her crafty father, but she finds the gesture very romantic and reads with passion the letters in which he recounts his adventures in the fields of California.


The term Braceros describes those who work with their arms.


Mariachi Champaña Nevin. Santa Rosa Symphony Orchestra, Francesco Lecce-Chong, director.


Mariachi Champaña Nevin. Santa Rosa Symphony Orchestra, Francesco Lecce-Chong, director.


Estreno Mundial. Green Music Center, Rohnert Park, CA, EUA. Mariachi Champaña Nevin. Rafael Jorge Negrete, Mónica Ábrego, Santa Rosa Symphony Orchestra, Francesco Lecce-Chong, director.  

June 13, 2022

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