Executive Producer
 Mundo Fox VIVA FEST
San Jose Mexican Heritage and Mariachi Festival

In conversation with Iride Aparicio

 Marcela Davison Aviles    Photo:  I. Aparicio

SAN JOSE, CA –  Since 2004, MARCELA DAVISON AVILES, Attorney at Law, specializing in Entertainment and Music, copyright, and other intellectual property and non-profit law, has served as CEO of the  Mexican Heritage Corporation (MHC) a non-profit community based presenter, producer and content company that showcases the  Latino Multicultural performing arts in Northern California. Under her dynamic leadership, MHC is now the content curator and provider for KQED’s Hispanic Heritage Events, with Mundo Fox "VIVA FEST," being the most elaborate of them. In an exclusive interview, MARCELA discusses with CULTURAL WORLD BILINGUAL, her role in "Mundo Fox VIVA FEST - - San Jose Mexican Heritage and Mariachi Festival" next month in San Jose.

As its Executive Producer” she says, “I am sort of the CEO of the festival.  The person who comes up with the theme of the festival and makes the various decisions regarding programming and raising  the money for it from foundations, individual donors and corporations. I am also responsible of all management and production of all the events that  will take place at the festival, a celebration of  Mexican Independence.”

“This year, the Board of Trustees at the Mexican Heritage Corporation, which work with me and to whom I report, will be very active in the festival. I also have many vendors that will work with us to produce the festival, and many volunteers. The 2013 festival will be wonderful. It will  include concerts, film series at IMAX Theatre, “Special events,” exhibitions  and Workshops in San José.

San José Mexican Heritage and Mariachi Festival”  was born

Viva Fest 1

Mariachi Sol de Mexico Official Photo         Photo Courtesy: VIVA FEST

The original “San José Mariachi Festival,” was created in San José in l991 to celebrate the art form of the mariachi and to preserve that cultural heritage. When the festival was founded, it was given the name of  “San José’s Mariachi Festival” because, at the time, the only programming that the festival offered was Mariachi: Mariachi workshops, Mariachi music, ballet folklorico, and a Mariachi Concert at the end.

As the years passed, and the festival expanded, however, there were changes in its programming to include: Latin pop, Latin Rock, son Jarocho and other types of  music that was not “mariachi.”  So, while the “mariachi workshops” never changed, other types of workshops were added,  among them cooking workshops in Latina Cuisine, and workshops in architecture where people learned how adobe dwellings are made.

About two years ago, it was suggested to the festival’s producers, to add to the original name of the festival, another name to better reflect what the new festivals were doing. The producers received also feedback that this “added”  name should be “celebratory,” a positive reflection of the Latino community, and an “inviting” name to all communities. After a long deliberation, the producers came out with the name Viva (A common extol word in Latin America) y Fest (which may be  translated as party in Spanish).

Because the producers  did not want to eliminate the original name of “San José Mariachi Festival,” it is still part of the name of the festival now known as  “VIVA FEST” (dash, dash) San José Mariachi Festival.”

The proceeds of the festival benefit the MHC, and the San Jose Unified School District’s  Mariachi Youth Education Program which provides Mariachi music programs for students from diverse communities.

 “This year,  for VIVA FEST” we will be producing concerts and activities for the entire month of September, “ says Marcela. It will start in Labor Day weekend, and will end on September 28th. 

“Over the Labor day weekend, we will have our “Mariachi workshops” and Ballet Folklorico workshops.

Viva Fest 2
Children from the ballet folklorico workshop     Photo:VIVA FEST

“The concert, and the big mariachi concert will be on September 7th and that is going to be at the SAP CENTER (former HP Pavilion). The theme of the concert is “Celebration of the Romantic Music of Mexico" a Homage  to Maria Grever and composers like her. For this concert, we invited a tenor from Mexico City, his  name is FERNANDO de la MORA and he will be performing with Symphony Silicon Valley. El Mariachi Sol de Mexico will also be performing at this concert”

“Every year, the festival has an outdoor celebration, called “Feria del Mariachi,” She adds, “And about the same time, the Consulate of México has another one: “Fiestas Patrias” for “El Grito,” who has been produced by the G.I. Forum. Recently, however, the G.I. Forum decided to give scholarships instead of producing “El Grito,” so since “El Grito” is going to be on a Sunday, this year and part of the Festival of VIVA FEST is going to be close to that date, we decided to work together with the Mexican Consulate and have one big huge celebration. So this year, the celebration of Fiestas Patrias y "El Grito," will be part of VIVA FEST.”

“Here I would like to add that “VIVA FEST” is not a festival for a certain group of people,” says Marcela,  “It cannot be, because part of our mission at the Mexican Heritage Corporation is not only to preserve and celebrate our  heritage, but to share it with people from other cultures so they can learn from it.  My own view is that some times, what it takes to change hearts and minds  is the be beauty of a culture, the beauty of its people, the beauty of its arts. Something that (as VIVA FEST) shows the humanity of our heritage, because when people sees it, they (people from all over the world)  may learn how much they have in common with us."

Viva Fest 3
Dancers from Ballet Folklorico              Photo courtesy: VIVA FEST

“That is the reason why we want to bring many people together in VIVA FEST, to celebrate with them  this wonderful, beautiful heritage from Mexico that this  year is going to be  “romantic, celebratory and very exciting.

Those interested  in seeing this year’s complete  program online, could go to its website: Marcela also mentioned that those interested in buying discounted tickets for VIVA FEST, the festival is working with a Membership Organization  called  who offers concerts' tickets at a discounted price to its members. (you have to join the organization but joining is free)  People can also buy tickets at the former HP Pavilion tickets office (now SAP Center) and at Ticket Master.