Mariachi Garibaldi from Southwestern College performs before audience members in the live room for the launch of the MUSIC@CITY “Live from the Studio” series at San Diego City College on Oct. 4, 2023. Photo by Vince Outlaw/City Times Media
Mariachi Garibaldi from Southwestern College performs before audience members in the live room for the launch of the MUSIC@CITY “Live from the Studio” series at San Diego City College on Oct. 4, 2023. Photo by Vince Outlaw/City Times Media
Vince Outlaw

City College music debuts live-audience streaming series with mariachi group (with video)

Inaugural installment features a 13-piece ensemble from the first-in-the-nation program based at Southwestern College

The San Diego City College music program opened its “Live from the Studio” series on Oct. 4 with the internationally recognized ensemble Mariachi Garibaldi playing in — and streaming from — the on-campus recording studio.

Mariachi Garibaldi, an ensemble from Southwestern College, performed compositions in multiple styles of music, including polka, bolero, huapango and son to an in-person audience of as many as 10 attendees. 

The performance was also streamed on YouTube, having 14 live viewers at one point.

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Southwestern is the first college in the country to offer an associate degree in music with a specialization in mariachi, explained music Professor Jeff Nevin in this YouTube video about the program

“Live from the Studio” is an initiative to increase the visibility of the City College recording studio, both on campus and in the larger community, according to Associate Professor of Music Mike Espar. 

“I always loved some of these series like  NPR’s ‘Tiny Desk’ and ‘Live from Daryl’s House’, things like that, where they were taking non-traditional venues or recording studios and using them physically as intimate concert venues,” Espar said.

The studio consisted of the live room for the audience, the space where the musicians played and the control room, providing a capacity space of between 30-50 people for the concert, according to the music professor.

The new series is integrated into City College’s commercial music program focused on live sound recording and studio recording. 

Students are “getting all these … nice mix of skills from live sound to studio recording to video streaming,” Espar said, “… skills that all up-and-coming independent artists need to have these days to help promote themselves and grow their fan bases.”

Audience and student staff experience the inaugural “Live from the Studio” performance from the studio’s control room, Oct. 4, 2023. Photo by Vince Outlaw/City Times Media

With audience members sitting in close proximity to the performers in the live room, the group’s leader, Southwestern’s Nevin explained the musical styles and historical significance of the compositions, giving audience members the ability to respond to and ask questions. 

Community members Samantha Izaguirre-Gomez and Carlos Gomez Perez, who attended in person, made note of the opportunity afforded by the unique space with two rooms. 

“I felt like I was imposing on their space,” Izaguirre-Gomez said. “But then when we sat, it was really comfortable. It’s really nice.”

Added Perez: “It was very important how much (Nevin) was going into who (was) actually singing, why they sung it … informing people about where mariachi comes from.

“It’s not just guys that dress up and play guitars or playing canteens. There’s a history behind it.”

Participating students were put to the test early. Minutes before the start of the performance, the stage area needed to be reconfigured to accommodate the 13-piece ensemble.

About five minutes after the performance started, the band was asked to stop so that a problem with the audio portion of the video stream could be fixed. The performance was restarted, along with the video.

The performance of Mariachi Garibaldi was the first of several October World Culture Program events, including the next “Live from the Studio” installment featuring UCSD jazz-fusion group Starsign on Oct. 18. 

Later in the fall semester, the series hosts the Mesa College Guitar Ensemble, a 20-person acoustic guitar group.

Series events are listed on the MUSIC@CITY calendarThe performance is archived on the MUSIC@CITY YouTube channel, where future shows will also be streamed. 

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