Concerts from the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2019, 12:00 PM, No Tickets Required

NEA Heritage Fellows: Las Tesoros

Coolidge Auditorium, Ground Floor

Las Tesoros de San Antonio:
Beatriz “La Paloma del Norte” Llamas
Blanquita “Blanca Rosa” Rodríguez

A conversation with two NEA fellows, accompanied by music from Mariachi Esperanza: Henry Gomez (Director), vihuela, Moises Perez, trumpet, Jose Luis Vaca, violin, and Rafael Aguirre, guitarron

Las Tesoros de San Antonio are a group of elder women performers who teamed up to preserve Mexican and bicultural musical expressions through their singing and storytelling. Janet “Perla Tapatia” Cortez, Beatriz “La Paloma del Norte” Llamas, Blanquita “Blanca Rosa” Rodríguez, and Rita “La Calandria” Vidaurri each had impressive singing careers that soared both locally and internationally from the 1940s to the1960s before tapering off in later years. Through the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center in San Antonio, these women reemerged and teamed up as the group Las Tesoros in the 2000s. Although Janet “Perla Tapatia” Cortez and Rita “La Calandria” Vidaurri passed away in recent years, Llamas and Rodríguez continue to perform and maintain the legacy of the group.

All four women grew up in the West Side of San Antonio, Texas. Each singer, with her personal style and grace, forms part of this unique ensemble that represents the important sound of the Mexico/Texas border. They were all inspired by and connected to many other important Tejana singers, including the great Lydia Mendoza (1982 NEA National Heritage Fellow) and the internationally renowned Eva Garza.

Beatriz “La Paloma del Norte” Llamas was born in 1938 in Aguascalientes, México. When she was 11, she moved with her mother and sister to Edinburg, Texas, to join her father. In 1951, the Llamas family moved to San Antonio and Llamas entered her first talent contest. Eva Ybarra (2017 NEA National Heritage Fellow) bested her, but she entered another contest and won, beginning her career singing on radio shows, and touring with different musical acts. Llamas gained attention from the owners of Sombrero Records and began recording singles. She worked with KCOR—one the country’s first full-time, Spanish-language radio stations. She shared the stage with Alberto and Arturo López, and later married Arturo. In 1995, she was inducted into the Tejano Music Hall of Fame and in 1999 she was inducted into the Tejano Conjunto Hall of Fame.

Blanca “Blanquita Rosa” Rodríguez was raised in San Antonio, Texas, where she began singing at the age of five. At age 13, Rodríguez competed in her first performance at the Teatro Guadalupe where she won first place, which led to singing on KCOR radio and at Teatro Zaragoza. She toured the United States and Mexico, performing with groups like Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, Mariachi América, Mariachi de Ramón Palomar, and Los Reyes de Jalisco. Rodríguez has also toured with singing stars like Amalia Mendoza, Charro Avitia, Vicente Fernández, José Alfredo Jiménez, and Juan Mendoza. In addition to performing, Rodríguez is an active music teacher, instructing and coaching her students in singing techniques.

Mariachi Esperanza is composed of 4 musicians who have 40 years or more experience performing. Each of them directs other mariachi groups. These musicians have performed with international superstars such as Jose Alfredo Jimenez, Lola Beltran, Miguel Aceves Mejia, Lucha Villa, Antonio Aguilar, Amalia Mendoza, and Charro Avitia. Their director is Henry Gomez who plays the virhuela. Moises Perez plays the trumpet, Jose Luis Vaca plays the violin, and Rafael Aguirre plays the guitarron.

This concert is co-sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Council for the Traditional Arts.

A free noon concert series presented by the American Folklife Center and the Music Division of the Library of Congress. Most concerts are held in the Coolidge Auditorium (located on the Ground Floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress) or the Whittall Pavilion (next to the Coolidge, on the Ground Floor, Jefferson Building). Occasionally, concerts may be in other locations, which will be specified above in the concert description. Presented in Partnership with the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. NO TICKETS REQUIRED.