Villalobos Brothers’ Vibrant Mexican Music Triumphs at The Conrad

Sunday afternoon, the Villalobos Brothers brought their virtuosity and unique musical style to La Jolla’s Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center. While the three brothers—Ernesto, Alberto and Luis—are accomplished, classically trained violinists, they have applied their technical prowess to the musical traditions of Veracruz, Mexico, as well as other contemporary musical movements.

(l. to r.) Alberto Villalobos, Joe Sturges, Luis Villalobos, Rudyck Vidal & Ernesto Villalobos [photo (c.) Ken Jacques]

Growing up in Xalapa, the inland capital of the Mexican state of Veracruz, the Villalobos Brothers first learned the son jarocho, a regional folk style that fused the indigenous Huatecan musical elements with the Spanish colonists’ Baroque music and the Western African music of people forcibly brought to New Spain. Following the Brothers’ formal compositional studies, they integrated these traditions into their own unique, pulsing and rhythmically vibrant instrumental and vocal ballads.

In the music of the Villalobos Brothers, their three unrelenting violin lines intersect in a tight contrapuntal texture that borders on heterophony. For their program at The Conrad, the Brothers were ably assisted by percussionist Joe Sturges, guitarist Sergio Ramirez, and bassist Rudyck Vidal, amplifying the strengthening the bold rhythmic character of the Brothers’ music. From time to time, one of the Brothers would exchange his violin for a guitar to vary the instrumental texture. And all of the Brothers sang, sometimes in winning solo fashion as well as in sonorous three-part harmony.

The Brothers did announce the titles of their pieces as they went along, but my Spanish is not fluent enough to recount them with accuracy.

Following the Villalobos Brothers, the La Jolla Music Society’s program continued with a performance by the ensemble Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles. I was unable to hear their performance because I left to cover Chanticleer at nearby St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church.

This program was presented by the La Jolla Music Society on April 30, 2023, in the Baker-Baum  Concert Hall at The Conrad in downtown La Jolla.

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