The Taos County Historical Society announces its 2017 May Honoree Luncheon at noon Sunday, May 7 at the Old Martina’s Hall in Ranchos de Taos.
The Society’s honorees are Nick Branchal and Norbert Martinez Jr., for continuing the tradition of mariachi musicians in the schools. The featured speaker is Nicolasa Chavez, curator of the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe. Her presentation is “Flamenco: From Spain to New Mexico”.
Branchal is a retired music teacher from Taos. He is known for starting the first high school mariachi program to receive academic credit in New Mexico at Taos High School in 1981. Mariachi programs in New Mexico and other states have, subsequently, used his curriculum and program model to start similar programs in their respective schools. He has directed high school mariachi in Taos and Questa as well as university groups including New Mexico Highlands University and Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado. He directed Adams State University’s mariachi programfor 15 years until his retirement in 2016. He has also been director and member of Mariachi Encantadoras del Rio Grande and Mariachi Rio Grande. Mr. Branchal also conducts mariachi consultancy seminars and clinics through the state and southwest and he was one of the Albuquerque Internationl Mariachi Conference’s Instructors for years.
As a senior in high school, Martinez Jr. was one of the few students who enjoyed Spanish music. He was one of the original members of the Taos High School Mariachi Program in 1981 under the direction of Nick Branchal. In 1991, Martinez earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary music with a minor in music from Adams State College and Highlands University. He was the director of the mariachi program in Questa for five years and in 2004 was offered the position of general music education teacher at Taos Elementary School.
In 2008, Martinez became director for the Taos Middle School and Taos High School mariachi programs. He is assisted by Branchal and Audrey Davis. Under the leadership of Martinez, Mariachi El Tigre has performed for the 2017 State Legislature Enchanted Circle Day and the 2016 New Mexico Hispano Music Awards show.
Chavez is the curator of the recent exhibition Flamenco: From Spain to New Mexico at the Museum of International Folk Arts, Santa Fe and is the author of the accompanying publication The Spirit of Flamenco: From Spain to New Mexico.
“Flamenco is often considered an outward expression of one’s innermost emotions, whether happy or sad; it carries an air of freedom or abandon,” Chavez said.
A treasured legacy handed down from generation to generation, the sensual and intense flamenco is traced from 15th-century Spain to modern day New Mexico.
Chavez, a 14th-generation New Mexican is the Curator of Latino/Hispano/Spaisnh Colonial Collections at the Museum of International Folk Art (Moifa) in Santa Fe. She received her master’s degree in history with a concentration in Iberian Studies at the University of New Mexico. She continues to make special guest appearances in Flamenco shows at various local venues inlcuding Old Martina’s Hall of Ranchos de Taos.
Luncheon reservations must be completed by April 28, with a buffet menu of $25 for Taos County Historical Society members and $30 for non-members. Buffet menu consists of cheese enchiladas, spanish rice, beans, grilled marinated boneless chicken thigh, house salad, chocolate mousse tart, coffee and tea. Each plate is guaranteed and non-refundable, tax and gratuity in price.Indicate the number of members or non-members and mail payment to Taos County Historical Society, PO Box 2447, Taos, NM 87571. For more information, call Ernestina Cordova at 575.770.0681, president of the Taos County Historical Society.
The Taos County Historical Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to the study and preservation of the historical resources of Taos County and northern New Mexico. It was formed in 1952 for the purpose of “…preserving the history of the Taos area.” Membership is open to any interested person, student or business, regardless of residence, upon the payment of dues. For additional membership information, visit www.taoscountyhsitoricalsociety.org.