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‘From Bamba to Bach’: Latino Arts Guitar Festival Teaches About The Power Of Music

Angel Torres

The strings program at the near-south side's Latino Arts has been hailed for providing top-notch education, free of charge, to low-income Latino students across Milwaukee. 

One highlight of the programs is their annual Guitar Festival for area youth. In fact, it was such a success that it grew to include not just a student competition, but also master classes for the whole community.

This year's festival takes place on Saturday, February 20 and will end with winners playing a concert along with professional guitarists Ivan Resendiz and Marina Tomei.

Much of its success is due to the effort and determination of multi-instrumentalist and teacher Dinorah Marquez.

Marquez says that not only does the strings program teach students, it also encourages parents to become involved with their child’s learning.

“We incorporated into the Latino Arts program elements that made it very accessible to the families,” she says. “We have a whole track of Mariachi ensembles that performs out, so families can relate to the music. But we like to say that we’re from Mariachi to Mozart, from 'bamba' to Bach, you know? We go ‘Bach and forth.’”

The school also encourages music as a possible career path for students after high school. For many parents, the idea of being of a professional musician can seem a bit unrealistic. But Marquez says that having professional musicians involved with the program, like Resendez, can provide a helpful example for parents and students.

Marquez sees music as a way for students to connect with their community, but also as a means to understanding other cultures.

“Music transcends language, transcends cultures, and it is an amazing tool for bringing cultures together,” she says.

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.
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