History of Mariachi in Albuquerque

On Sunday, March 19, 2023, Peter Sanchez spoke on the origin of Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque and the life and achievements of its founder, Noberta Fresquez. Her life influences and love of mariachi music led to the creation of this significant cultural event. Mariachi Spectacular is in its 31st year and is considered the premier event of its type bringing numerous iconic Mariachi Maestros and participants from all over the country together for the educational experience, combined with a truly spectacular concert performance. Noberta took her passion for mariachi culture and developed one of the largest cultural events in the Southwest. The program was held at the Albuquerque Museum at 2000 Mountain Rd. NW in Old Town.

Photo of Norberta FresquezNoberta Fresquez has been around music and entertainment her entire life. This influence along with her roots in southern New Mexico undoubtedly helped her come to love the music of mariachi. And it was this love for the music that led her on a quest to establish one of the first mariachi music conferences in the United States. Bringing a learning environment and process together in a conference was quite a task in the early days but the motivation to provide a pathway to the joy of mariachi music was even greater. As the co-founder and producer of Mariachi Spectacular, an event founded in 1990, Noberta has now witnessed the birth and the growth of a program that has helped teach tens of thousands, the art of mariachi. Today, Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque is considered the premier event of its type bringing numerous iconic master teachers together for the educational element, combined with a truly spectacular concert performance headlined by the world’s most renowned mariachi groups. These two elements are the foundation of a week long series of events meant to teach, celebrate and promote the colorful, rich music of mariachi. Each year in July held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, thousands participate in the series of events. The event includes a three day music education conference, a student Showcase Concert, Spectacular Concert featuring world renowned mariachi ensembles, a community appreciation event called La Pasion de Mariachi, a Mariachi Mass Celebration and an annual induction ceremony in the MARIACHI INTERNATIONAL HALL OF FAME.

Noberta’s love for mariachi extends beyond Mariachi Spectacular as she is also the creator, founder and producer of MARIACHI CHRISTMAS, now in its’ 17th year. Ms. Fresquez’ dream to see an elementary school mariachi program was realized in 2002 when she started the first elementary mariachi music program in Albuquerque at East San Jose Elementary School. Noberta has dedicated her life pursuits towards building bridges of understanding between cultures and sharing with people, from all backgrounds, the beauty of her hispanic heritage.

Noberta has been recognized, locally, nationally and internationally for her expertise in cultural entertainment and programming. She is a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Mexico Hispano Music Association; the Mark Ipiotis Award from the New Mexico Hispano Entertainers Association; the CREATIVE BRAVO AWARD; DE COLORES AWARD for excellence in cultural education programming. She has also been recognized by the New Mexico State Board of Education for her outstanding work in providing Mariachi music education to public school children in the state. In 2010, she was recognized by the New Mexico Business Weekly as one of that years 25 influential Women of New Mexico. In 2011, Noberta received the highest award the Mexican government gives to non Mexican citizens, El Premio OHTLI. She is one of three New Mexicans that have received this prestigious award. Most recently she received the New Mexico Distinguished Public Service Award from Governor Susana Martinez.

Photo of Peter SanchezPeter Sanchez’s career has spanned a variety of industries and functions – from tax consultant to CFO of tech startups to CEO of an innovative nonprofit. After spending the early years of his career in New York and Texas, working in the financial sector followed by more than a decade in technology, a new opportunity brought Sanchez back to his home state of New Mexico in 2007. Sanchez serves as Chief Executive Officer for The Atrisco Companies, which includes Mariachi Spectacular among its managed companies. Sanchez has led a dynamic group of employees in six different entities while reinventing the Atrisco Land Grant organization and continuing its 400+ year history in our community. Sanchez holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of New Mexico and earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Houston.