‘Los Valientes’ brings Latin American culture to campus

‘Los Valientes’ brings Latin American culture to campus

Lydia Good

Contributing Writer

lydiab@goshen.edu

Kevin Mendez portrayed several characters during Tuesday's performance of "Los Valientes: The Courageous Ones." Photo by Hannah Sauder

Kevin Mendez portrayed several characters during Tuesday’s performance of “Los Valientes: The Courageous Ones.”
Photo by Hannah Sauder

“And should Joaquín Murrieta ever be needed again, he will return!”

Those words resonated as the last declaration of Joaquín Murrieta in Tuesday night’s performance of “Los Valientes: The Courageous Ones.” Hosted by the Center for Intercultural and International Education, in collaboration with the Spanish department and theater department, “Los Valientes” is a performance combining music and dramatic historical retellings of the lives of famous Latinos.

The performance featured multiple musical pieces, including both interludes and a soundtrack to the dramatic events. The pieces were performed by a trio of instrumentalists: Ju Young Lee, cellist, Chien-I Yang, pianist, and Michael Parola, percussionist, who also serves as executive director. Parola received his doctorate in music from the State University of New York and founded Core Ensemble in 1993. Since then he has produced almost a dozen works with Core Ensemble and commissioned hundreds of concert musicians and actors.

The actor for this performance was Kevin Melendez, who is in his third season with Core Ensembles. In “Los Valientes,” Melendez portrayed painter Diego Rivera, former archbishop of El Salvador Oscar Romero, and “El Zorro,” or Joaquín Murrieta, a bandido in California in 1853.

Junior Noemí Salvador Lucero was excited about the way the people were presented in the performance. “I think it’s good, because history doesn’t often show people this way. Telling stories is a way to regain identity, especially in controversial figures. There is a revolutionary in all of us,” said Lucero.

The event was planned in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month; therefore, persons portrayed in the performance highlighted important revolutionary figures from the Hispanic culture. According to María Sanchez Schirch, assistant professor of Spanish, this was the intent of the show.

“The event gave a hint about the life of these three people,” said Schirch. “They were very different, but they made changes in history. Historical figures have a lot of influence and you can’t make the future without seeing the past. Events like these give Latinos the chance to learn about their cultural identity and it gives chances for other students at the college to learn about the culture as well.”

The Spanish department hopes to host more events in the future to teach about and expose people to aspects of Latin American culture. This was the first time the Spanish department has been involved in hosting an event. Students from the Spanish department were encouraged to volunteer or simply attend the event.

“I wanted my students to be involved and learn about the culture,” said Shirch. “I wanted them to hear the way you can use two languages and mix them together. That is why the Spanish department was involved, to expose and educate our students.”

The event also featured a performance by Nayo Ulloa, adjunct professor of international education, who performed musical demonstrations of various Peruvian flutes, including the kenna and cantara. The event concluded with the presentation of various scholarships to both college and high school students by the CIIE, in recognition of their achievements in the community.

Record
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