MERIDEN — Felipe Pacheco’s voice soared as classmates strummed the guitarrón and plucked the folk harp during an impromptu performance at the Mariachi Academy of New England’s Wallingford school Monday.
”The energy of feeling the mariachi, I just love playing it. When you play it you can feel it,” Pacheco said. “It just makes me happy and it’s fun.”
The Mariachi Academy of New England is bringing their mix of music education and culture to the Augusta Curtis Cultural Center on East Main Street starting this week.
The Wallingford-based academy, founded by Evangeline Mendoza Bourgeois through the Spanish Community of Wallingford in 2010, was taken over by Mariachi Mexico Antigua in 2016. Since then, they have expanded to offer classes in Hartford, Bridgeport, West Haven, and New Britain, with Meriden being the newest location.
Classes in Meriden will be held at the cultural center on Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m..
The first four classes, starting June 21, are free and open to the public. After that, tuition is $60 a month, with classes held weekly. Tuition assistance is available.
Executive Director Adam Romo said classes will offer training in vocals, guitar, violin, trumpet, harp, music theory and the history of mariachi. For students who do not speak Spanish, the program can give them exposure to a second language in a way that is fun and inviting.
Students of all backgrounds are encouraged to enroll, Romo said, adding there are students of Indian and Polish descent at the New Britain location.
“This is for everyone,” Romo said. “We’re not going to close the door to anyone.”
Maria Harlow, executive director of the Spanish Community of Wallingford, was excited the group is continuing to expand.
”We knew they were going to fly high, they are incredibly talented,” Harlow said. “We are very happy to see them grow and expand, and we know that they are going to go very, very far.”
Shelly Martinez, a 16-year-old violinist, said her passion for the music is rooted in her love for her family, who enjoy attending her concerts.
“It’s nice seeing my family hear it and sharing what we can do,” she said.
Lyman Hall High School sophomore Citlalli Hernandez smiled while playing the guitarrón. Hours spent practicing to be part of the band taught her the value of hard work, but also produced “a lot of laughs and smiles.”
To learn more about the academy, visit www.mariachiacademyct.com.