Concert to Celebrate CSUN Professor Herrera

Hundreds of people are expected to gather at Los Angeles’ Ford Theatres next month to celebrate the contributions of Mexican-American and Chicano performing artists to California’s richly diverse culture.

Among those being singled out for his tireless efforts to celebrate and preserve the regional music of Mexican Americans is California State University, Northridge Chicana/o studies professor Fermin Herrera.

“The program is going to pay tribute to those who came before us and those who have continued to teach,” said Cal State Northridge alumnus Virginia Diediker, founder of the internationally acclaimed dance troupe Ballet Folklorico Ollin and an organizer of the Aug. 10 celebration. “Fermin has influenced hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of students as a teacher and mentor. He is renowned as a harpist and his group, Conjunto Jarocho Hueyapan, is known internationally. He is one of the first people in California who has truly influenced generations about an entire genre of music.”

Herrera said he was honored by the celebration.

“I see it more as a tribute to all the wonderful musicians, dancers and storytellers who are from California and contributed to the preserving and sharing of our culture,” he said. “If they are using me as a symbol of that, well, all I can say is that I pay homage to all of them.”

The celebration, “4 Generations Son Mexicano in California,” is scheduled to take place at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 10, the Ford Amphitheatre, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood.

Using theater, dance and music, the show seeks to highlight California’s Mexican history and the Mexican- American folklorists and artists who have contributed to its evolution. Representing a blend of two cultures, California’s Mexican-American and Chicano arts have kept Mexican art forms and traditions alive over many decades and popularized them, making them U.S. traditions and part of the American fabric.

The evening will feature performances by Ballet Folklorico Ollin, Fermin Herrera and Conjunto Jarocho Hueyapan, Hermanos Herrera, Mariachi Tesoro de San Fernando and Rene Rivera.

“Fermin is credited for his knowledge culturally and as a musician and a master of the harp and jarocho music.””The title of the show “4 Generations: Son Mexicano in California” is inspired by Fermin, and it is believed this is the first time Fermin has ever been acknowledged.”

Herrera, who joined the university in 1971, is one of the original faculty to make up Cal State Northridge’s Department of Chicana/o Studies. He helped build it into one of the most respected such programs in the country. Over the years, he has been joined on the faculty by his sister, Maria Isabel Herrera; daughter, Xilomen; and son Xocoyotzin. All are respected scholars in their own right.

An internationally renowned musician and music historian, Herrera founded Conjunto Hueyapan in 1973. It is a family ensemble, featuring Herrera, his three brothers, his sister, Maria Isabel, and Fermin’s two sons, Xocoyotzin and Motecuhsomah. In addition to performing, the group has worked tirelessly over the years to document and preserve son mexicano (a particular type of Mexican folk music from the countryside) in general and son jarocho (a traditional musical style of Veracruz, Mexico) in particular.

In addition to honoring those artists who paved the way, Diediker said organizers hope the evening will draw attention to the challenges and struggles that exist today, including the fight for educational, cultural, artistic and literary freedom in Arizona.

Ticket prices for the show start at $30 and $12 for full-time students with ID and children 12 and under. Tickets are available at or (323) 461-3673. For groups of eight or more, please call (323) 769-2147.

Written by San Fernando Valley Sun
Thursday, 02 August 2012