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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 20, 2006

Hancher Holiday Happenings Conclude With Dec. 10 Mariachi 'Fiesta Navidad'

Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano will launch a "Fiesta Navidad" holiday party with a performance at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, in Hancher Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus.

The performance will begin at the unusual time of 4 p.m. because after the show the fiesta will move to the Hancher lobby with music, dance and an array of Mexican treats, included in the ticket price. A dance ensemble from St. Patrick's Church and the Gonzales Brothers from Perry will perform in the lobby.

Nati Cano began his mariachi career at age 8, performing in the streets of Guadalajara. Now the mariachi band that bears his name is a Grammy-nominated favorite throughout the United States and Mexico. His Mariachi Los Camperos is noted for demanding musical arrangements that highlight the individual skills and voices of the players.

Cano, a pioneer of mariachi music in the United States, has been recognized worldwide for his many accomplishments. However, two honors are particularly close to his heart: the National Heritage Fellowship of the National Endowment for the Arts, which is the highest honor the United States government offers to private citizens in the field of traditional arts, and the "Silvestre Vargas Award" in Mexico.

Born in 1933 to a family of day laborers, Cano began his musical training at the age of 6, when he was tutored by his father, Sotero Cano, a self-taught musician who could play all the instruments of a mariachi ensemble except the trumpet. At the age of 8, he enrolled in the Academy of Music in Guadalajara to study the violin, but at 14 he left the school to join his father making the rounds in cantinas and cafes in Guadalajara.

Cano was soon given the opportunity to do a six-month tour with a chamber orchestra. Against his father's wishes and with his mother's blessing, he toured the Mexican Republic and learned the European roots in Mexican music. The experience introduced him to regional traditions and gave him a greater appreciation of his culture.

In 1950 Cano joined Mariachi Chapala in Mexicali. He was the youngest musician in the group by at least 10 years, but because of his talent and musical training he soon became the musical arranger for the group.

In 1957, when he traveled to Los Angeles for the first time, Cano decided it was time to broaden his horizons and base himself permanently in the United States. In 1961 he founded Los Camperos de Nati Cano (Nati Cano's country folk), and has led the ensemble ever since.

Both a traditionalist and a visionary, Cano has honored and shaped the history of mariachi music, a tradition unique to North America that combines Spanish music with the indigenous musics of the Americas.

He is credited for taking the mariachi form from the streets and into the concert halls of the United States - and from Guadalajara's Teatro de Degollado to the White House. His ensemble appeared on the PBS television special "Americanos," taped at the Kennedy Center.

His longtime association with Linda Ronstadt, backing her up in live performances and on her "Canciones de Mi Padre" album, helped catapult mariachi music to unprecedented national prominence.

Hancher's mariachi "Fiesta Navidad" is supported through the University of Iowa Foundation by Iowa Memorial Union Catering and UI Hospitals & Clinics. Media support comes from KDAT-FM.

Tickets are $40/37/34; UI student $36/15; senior citizen $36/33.30/30.60; youth $20/18.50/17. Discounted concert tickets are available as part of volume purchases: A simultaneous purchase of five events or more qualifies for a 15-percent discount.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website:

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail:

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073; cell: 310-430-1013;

PHOTOS are available at