Thursday, December 3, 2009

Have A Very Merry Merry-Achi Christmas

By John Larson

SOCORRO – Rising talents Manuel Romero and Lorenzo Mendez are headlining this year’s Merry-Achi Christmas, Saturday, Dec. 12.
The annual Christmas celebration of music and dance, produced and presented by Les Torres, has consistently been a sell-out show at Macey Center since its inception in 2002.
“This year, we are trying some new things we hope the audience will like,” Torres said. “Lorenzo is coming back, of course, and a new face will be Manuel Romero, a young singing sensation from San Jose, California.”
Also appearing is local singing favorite Leanne Jojola of San Antonio, the Socorro High School Choir, under the direction of Elizabeth Suoranta, and the dance troupe from Albuquerque, Baila Baila Ballet Folklorico, returns by popular demand.
Providing the music is Mariachi Las Encantadoras del Rio Grande, from northern New Mexico. The nine member band is comprised of various musicians of varying degrees in music education.
“They’ve been playing together a year and a half, and have just released a CD,” Torres said. “They are an all female mariachi under the direction of Nick Branchal, who is an old pro and founded the first high school mariachi group in the state of New Mexico.”
The ensemble regularly plays shows in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Taos.
Torres said singer Manuel Romero, 19, is from the San Jose, Calif., area and is well on his way to stardom and fame.
“He sells out all his concerts and fans leave enchanted by Manuel’s voice,” Torres said. “He sings a wide range of musical styles, from mariachi and ballads in Spanish to classical Ave Maria and Christian contemporary as well as pop and romantic songs in English.”
Besides performing as a top 20 contestant on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” Romero has received the International Trebby Award for best popular album and song of the year for the self-titled album ‘Manuel Romero.’ A long-awaited religious CD, ‘Santa Maria.’ brings his album total to four. The new album includes a song that Manuel wrote with the help of his father as he has added songwriting, guitar, piano and drums to his list of talents.
Personal highlights of his young career was to sing for Pope John Paul II during one of the Pontiff’s visits to Mexico, and to sing both America’s and Mexico’s national anthems for President Vicente Fox.
While in Socorro, Manual Romero will perform at San Miguel Church, Sunday, Dec. 13 for the 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Mass, Torres said.
Lorenzo Mendez of El Paso has become a perennial favorite with Merry-Achi Christmas audiences.
“I've been singing since the age of three but on stage performing since the age of seven,” Mendez states in his bio. “At 16 years I won first place on the Univision show called ‘First Festival De Mariachi,’ recorded and aired internationally from Disney World. Because of that victory I was featured on ‘Don Francisco Presenta’. Two years later, at 18 years old, I decided to try out for another singing competition, ‘Gigantes Del Manana’ on the Sabado Gigante show.”
Since then, he has performed in hundreds of venues around the United States, and has three albums to his credit.
“We’re still working out some of the details, but I think this year’s Merry-Achi Christmas will be one of the best we’ve presented,” Torres said. “We have some great talent, and we’re working to make it a fun and memorable two and a half hours.”
To keep things moving along, Albuquerque radio personality Michelle Romero will handle the emcee duties.
Torres said a DVD of the show would be available one week later.
Admission is $16 for adults, $14 for seniors, and $12 for children.
Tickets are available at Sofia’s, Brownbilt Shoes and Western Wear, and the Performing Arts Series office.

Photo: Manuel Romero

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