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Dinorah Márquez started her non-profit program in the fall of 2002. Photo: jsonline.com
Dinorah Márquez started her non-profit program in the fall of 2002. Photo: jsonline.com

“From Mariachi to Mozart”, this program shows Latino children the art of classical music through virtual concerts

The Latino Arts Strings Program in Milwaukee, WI fosters a passion for classical Latino music among its participants.

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Latinos have such eclectic and diverse blood coursing through their veins.

African, indigenous, and Spanish influences, can be seen through our food, language, and melodies. 

One in particular, classical Latino guitar music, can be linked to the 15th century in Spain.

It then made its way to Latin America and the Caribbean through Afro-Indigenous communities, where many residents were captivated by the guitar’s strong sounds.

In the present day, there’s a new program to show off the many talents of Latinx youth on guitar through the Latino Arts Strings Program (LASP), based in Milwaukee, WI.

“The idea behind the program, the original seed idea was to establish a program in which young Latinx students, who may not have access to private instruction or conservatory work or private institutions, to be able to study instruments, string instruments,” Dinorah Márquez, founder and director of the program, told WUWM.

Márquez wanted to show Latinx youth that they could put their mind to anything they want to do, even if their backgrounds are different from others.

“They would have the possibility of developing their skills at a very high level but at the same time exploring the richness of the musical culture of the countries that we all come from," she said.

Márquez started LASP in the fall of 2002 as an initiative to foster the love of classical Latin music for prospective students. 

The music program is also reasonably affordable, at $75 per school year. It also provides musical instruments, small music lessons, and mariachi ensemble lessons every week.

The nonprofit organization also introduces art and dance to aspiring students.

Jone Alan Ruiz, a classical guitar teacher, told WUWM about how crucial it is to get students engaged in something that can connect them to their ancestors.

“Latino American music has been a very big impact in the development of the classical guitar,” he said.

When Márquez first started the program, it only consisted of 26 students.

Now, with more than 200 students, she is pleased to see how many Latino scholars are intrigued by the history of Latino music.

“We’ve also decided to establish a festival where we bring artists, primarily from Latin America,” said Márquez. “ But we also brought professionals from China and Germany.”

Her program also developed a competition for students to engage with each other and compete in a friendly atmosphere.

“We wanted to provide our students with that experience of coming together with students from all over, and competing with each other, also learning a lot about the guitar,” she explained.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit last March, many people have found music as a gateway to cure pent-up depression and anxiety.

We’re still wondering when everything will go back to normal, but Márquez is holding a virtual festival to showcase her students’ talents. 

Their 8th Annual Guitar Festival Concert will be held on Feb. 27, at 7 pm.

“This festival is as much an activity of hope and celebration as it is anything else,” she said.

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