Arturo Zavala (Eugene), trumpet player, is a third-generation mariachi musician. Zavala’s father, a professional mariachi himself, taught his children to play. At an early age, Zavala and his brothers played professionally as a mariachi. Now an academic advisor at UO, Zavala continues to carry on his family legacy and celebrate his culture by playing locally with Mariachi Monumental. Zavala is a mariachi educator, very active in mentoring aspiring mariachi musicians in Oregon.
Arturo Zavala, a trumpet player, is a third-generation mariachi musician, although musicians in his family go back at least six generations. His father made his living as a mariachi in his native Mexico before he traveled to California and then Utah. An accomplished musician, Zavala senior taught his children to play mariachi music on a variety of traditional instruments including trumpet, violin, vihuela (small guitar), guitar and guitarrón (bass guitar). When they were young, Zavala and his brothers played professionally as a family mariachi. He later became a high school teacher, and, in 2003, began Utah’s first mariachi program in a high school with a majority Latino population. Although the program was a great success for five years, budget cuts during the recession caused the program’s demise. Mariachi music is a style that goes back to the early 1900s. Over the years since, it has changed rapidly, though musicians continue to incorporate regional Mexican styles into the genre. To be a successful mariachi musician, Zavala has had to learn both traditional songs and Top 40 hits in order to accommodate audience and customer requests. Zavala and his wife relocated to Oregon in 2008 when he chose to pursue a master’s in arts management from the University of Oregon. Since that time, he has performed professionally with several area mariachi groups including the Portland-based Viva Mexico. Now an academic advisor at UO and father of two daughters, he continues to play with Mariachi Monumental, the group he and his bandmates formed in 2012. Arturo Zavala plans on carrying on his family legacy and celebrating his culture through music for the rest of his life.
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