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Mexico’s mariachi music named to UNESCO list of “intangible cultural heritage”

Tuesday, November 29th 2011 - 23:11 UTC
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A typical mariachi group playing to celebrate the occasion A typical mariachi group playing to celebrate the occasion

Mexico celebrated as mariachi music was named to UNESCO's list of “intangible cultural heritage” in need of preservation. The Mexican music was among the new entries chosen by envoys at a meeting in Indonesia to be inscribed on the UN cultural agency's list of intangible heritage items.

“Mariachi is a traditional music and fundamental element of Mexican culture, transmitting values, heritage, history and different Indian languages” the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization said.

“Modern Mariachi music includes a wide repertoire of songs from different regions of the country and musical genres. Musicians learn by ear from father to son and through performances at festive, religious and civil events”.

The list aims at ensuring “better visibility of the intangible cultural heritage and raising awareness of its importance while encouraging dialogue that respects cultural diversity,” according to UNESCO.

“This is good news for Mexican culture because mariachi is one of the cultural forms that evoke a national cultural imagination,” said Efrain Franco Frias of the University of Guadalajara.

The researcher noted that “the mariachi tradition exists not only in Mexico. There is a very strong presence for example among Latinos in the US, and in Paris about 30 mariachi groups have been documented, not to mention the hundreds in Central and South America.”

“We have something to be proud of, mariachi is something that identifies all Mexicans anywhere in the world and this validates that,” said Luis Martinez, a violinist of the mariachi band Los Reales, one of dozens that plays in Guadalajara.

The capital of Jalisco state, the birthplace of mariachi, has hosted an international mariachi festival since 1994 which draws more than 10,000 performers from as far away as Japan.

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