TEJANO CONJUNTO FESTIVAL
TEJANO CONJUNTO FESTIVAL. The Tejano Conjunto Festival, an annual music event, was organized by the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center under director Juan Tejeda in San Antonio in 1982. The event has become nationally known for its presentation of the Texas-Mexican conjunto, a musical form that evolved from música norteña and was developed by Texas-Mexican working-class musicians, beginning with Narciso Martínez, the "father" of conjunto music.
The festival occurs over a few days each May, generally over a weekend, but the event has lasted as long as a full week. It features many hours of live entertainment, in which dancing by the audience is encouraged. Several dozen traditional, popular, and progressive conjuntos led by such established musicians as Fred Zimmerle, Roberto Pulido, and Esteban Jordan, have appeared at the event each year. Musicians from Northern Mexico, the origin of conjunto, have also participated in the festival, and the organizers have occasionally included Cajun and zydeco accordionists. In addition, such female conjunto musicians as Eva Ybarra, Lupita Rodela, and Laura Canales have performed at the festival.
The festival program has often been divided into different areas to accommodate the many conjunto playing techniques. Some have been set aside for groups that represent the roots of conjunto, while others feature groups that embody lo mejor (the best) of San Antonio, or bands that have a new conjunto sound through the addition of a synthesizer or such instruments as the saxophone. The annual Tejano Conjunto Festival poster competition and accordion student recitals complement the occasion. Other activities to celebrate landmarks in the conjunto tradition have also become part of the festival.
The Conjunto Music Hall of Fame, established in 1982, has inducted more than seventy musicians, including several women. In addition, at the 1986 gathering, which marked the golden anniversary of recorded conjunto music, Narciso Martínez, who made his first record in 1936, was recognized. On many occasions the city of San Antonio has proclaimed May "Conjunto Music Month" and hosted special performances by various conjunto artists, including Valerio Longoria, a veteran conjunto innovator, on the steps of City Hall. In 2015 the event, held in Rosedale Park, marked the festival’s thirty-fourth anniversary.
Since its founding more than three decades ago, the Tejano Conjunto Festival has grown in popularity, drawing a diverse and large audience from around the country and from abroad. Some have estimated the attendance at 40,000.
Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, Tejano Conjunto Festival en San Antonio (http://www.guadalupeculturalarts.org/tejano-conjunto-festival/), accessed August 26, 2015. The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center Presents the Eleventh Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival en San Antonio, 1992 (San Antonio: Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, 1992). Tejano Conjunto Festival en San Antonio, 1991 (San Antonio: Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, 1991). Juan Tejeda and Avelardo Valdez, ed. ¡Puro Conjunto! An Album in Words and Pictures (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001).
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Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on May 25, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.