The Grammy-winning Villalobos Brothers fusion of Mexican folk, classical, and jazz traditions produces a high-energy show filled with love and joy. They are as comfortable fronting an orchestra as they are playing on the street. Musical families often have an almost supernatural connection, and the Villalobo Brothers do. They work from Mexico’s rich regional traditions, but play them with an energy that is just infectious.
Villalobos Brothers in New York City
The Villalobos Brothers roll up Mexican folk, classical, and jazz into Mexican alternative, for the globalFEST world music showcase in the Karen and Richard LeFrak Lobby at David Geffen Hall in Lincoln Center; on Sunday, January 14, 2024. globalFEST starts at 7pm. Villalobos play from 7:30-8:20pm. $60. lincolncenter.org 🇲🇽
Villalobos Brothers are a Viral Virtuosity of Joy
This is not your father’s ranchera. This is pop music much more in the tradition of opera singers and jazz artists who cross over into the pop world. In this line, the Villalobos Brothers just happen to have a Mexican folk music base.
The brothers Alberto, Ernesto and Luis Villalobos are from Xalapa, about an hour’s drive inland from Veracruz, Mexico. The region has always been a place where many influences come together.
Veracruz is Mexico’s Caribbean city. It has Caribbean culture and is the gateway to the Mexican capital Mexico City. Xalapa was on the route of Hernán Cortés in 1521, and the French Army that was famously defeated in the Battle of Puebla (1862) which we celebrate in the United States as Cinco de Mayo.
The Villalobos brothers are child prodigies who were inspired by their grandmother’s music. They developed a staccato style which mimics the human voice which they call “Fast-Chatting Violin.” Mexico is a country of Indigenous peoples. Indigenous Mexican languages have this staccato tonality in them. The brothers’ violins really do talk.
To become a master, you must study with one. Oldest brother Ernesto studied at Manhattan School of Music as a Fulbright scholar. Middle brother Alberto studied with Pierre Boulez in Switzerland. Youngest brother studied at the Mozarteum University of Salzburg, Austria.
The Brothers bring many traditions together around regional Mexican styles Son Jarocho and Son Huasteco. This is dance music so it also brings in the Fandango. Being Caribbean, some of the music has the call and response of Mother Afrika.
Mexico alone has a great diversity of regional Mexican styles. The Brothers start there, but suddenly they are in Stravinsky. Suddenly they are in the blues. Suddenly they are in Bartók. Suddenly they are in an Irish jig. OMG. There seems to be no end to their talent.
The Villalobos Brothers are master musicians who bring together an incredible range of the world’s musical styles with great virtuosity and an exuberance that is just infectious.
[From the Editor: Started listening to them and just couldn’t stop. Such a range of human emotions.]
This is how the brothers describe their album “Somos.”
With our voices and our instruments, we raise our hands for a world where many worlds can fit; a universal, tolerant and conscious family that sees and values the human spirit and appreciates diversity as its best legacy and its greatest wealth.
WE ARE citizens of the world. We were born in Mexico and from an early age our music made it possible for us to travel. We believe in music as a positive, necessary and inexhaustible healing force, and we live to share our creations. WE ARE not only troubadours of love and brotherhood, but also activist speaking against injustice, and impunity. Our life is for humanity.”Villalobos Brothers (2019)
Original coverage of the Villalobos Brothers was sponsored by the Purchase College Performing Arts Center. Thank you.