Streaming premiere of celebrated documentary series

Los Cenzontles proudly announces the online premiere of its celebrated documentary trilogy that explore issues of tradition, identity, and arts education in working class communities.

The films, directed by Mexican filmmaker Ricardo Braojos and produced by Eugene Rodriguez, will be released in order of its production.

The first of the series, Pasajero, A Journey of Time and Memory, can be streamed through the link provided below.

Pasajero: A Journey of Time and Memory, a one-hour documentary, is an authentic and uplifting story that follows a group of young inner-city Mexican-American musicians to Mexico where they seek a deeper meaning of its traditions.
They accompany their teacher, an elderly violinist, on his homecoming to his pueblo in Jalisco. The group tours a musical presentation of a long-forgotten style of pre-commercial mariachi in Mexico and California’s Central Valley where they meet fascinating characters that embody the spirit of old Mexico. Pasajero is a heartfelt reminder of the vital role that music plays in defining our identities.

Pasajero features interviews with an array of musicians and musicologists including Julian Gonzalez, Nati Cano of Mariachi Los Camperos, Dan Sheehy of Smithsonian Folkways and Chris Strachwitz of Arhoolie Records.

Released in 2004, Pasajero was distributed nationally on public television through American Public Television and Latino Public Broadcasting.

Stay tuned for upcoming releases of the second and third documentaries in the trilogy; Fandango, Searching for the White Monkey; and Vivir (To Live).
The films were created with support from Contacto Cultural (Rockefeller/Fonca/Bancomer), The James Irvine Foundation, The Ford FoundationThe Walter & Elise Haas Fund, The National Endowment for the ArtsThe California Arts Council, Alliance for California Traditional Arts, Bay Area Video CoalitionThe Lef Foundation, Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, and The Instituto Veracruzano de Cultura.

Physical DVDs of these documentaries can be purchased at our online store and licensing for showings can be obtained through the Academy.

KQED Article about Los Cenzontles

Andrew Gilbert at KQED has written a nice article about our 25 years of “Keeping It Real at the East Bay’s Los Cenzontles Academy” 


25th Anniversary Celebration May 30th

Join us in celebration – 25 years of Culture and Community

Family Barbecue Benefit Featuring David Hidalgo

Saturday, May 30, 3-7 PM

Live music, dance, Mexican barbecue, raffles, silent auction and more!

$50 adult/$30 17 & under – if purchased by May 23

$65 adult / $40 17 & under – after May 23

$100 VIP room access includes private Meet and Greet and drinks.

Admission price includes food and soft drink. Proceeds support youth cultural arts programming.

For tickets, purchase at Eventbrite

Spring 2015

Introducing our new Membership Program for your enjoyment! We now have tiered levels of membership that rewards your support with our gifts of appreciation ranging from handmade Thank You cards to behind the scenes tours and a home cooked meal.  Take a look at each tier description. (Keep mind that each membership tier includes perks from all previous tiers.)We are excited for the start of Spring Session at the Academy.  Starting March March 23, classes will continue for 10 weeks.Registration for our Summer Camp is already open. The program starts Monday, June 15.  The schedule will be: Weekdays, 9am-12:30pm. Students, ages 5-15, will learn Mexican inspired instrumental, vocal, dance and arts and crafts skills, in a fun, group environment and under the instruction of master artists. The program is intended to take children’s artistic talents to a new level, helping them develop technical ability, confidence, creativity and ensemble performance skills.  At the end of each session, students will present their art projects and participate in a performance, which will be free and open to the public.Los Cenzontles and Andre Thierry united their Latino and Creole traditions to create a soulful new sound available in the new album, “Shades of Brown”. The album mixes zydeco accordion, Mexican brass banda, congas and washboard that create a deep irresistible groove and fresh lyrical voice. They are joined by music legend David Hidalgo, of Los Lobos. The album was released February 10 and is available on iTunes and at our online store.

In February, Los Cenzontles’ Fabiola Trujillo and Lucina Rodriquez recorded “Male Albertina” with perfomer and composer, Atilano Lopez Patricio, of Jaracuaro, Michoacan. “Male Albertina” is a pirekua, an Indigenous love song form.

A Year In Review 2014


Dear Friends, We bring you good tidings and joy! Thanks to your generous support, Los Cenzontles celebrates its 25th year of culture, arts and education.

The Academy

We were able to enrich the lives of 352 students in 2014, with 126 traditional Mexican music, dance and artist classes through our four 10 week sessions and two-week summer camp intensive. 80% of our students are returning students and 60% took more than one class!

Success stories include our Teen Jarocho ensemble who performed their first public show on their own for over 1000 attendees at the Oakland Museum Day of the Dead event. Additionally, the Mariachi ensemble learned 5 new songs in just 10 weeks and performed together and in solos at last week’s recital. Many of our teens began in our program many years ago and others joined in the past few years. Either way, they are proud Cenzontles! 

Other highlights include the creation of our Noche Cultural – an ongoing series of cultural concerts at our beautiful theater.

This year also saw our first cooking classes and workshops for youth and adults in our gorgeous new kitchen.

We are proud to continue to serve as cultural consultants to other non-profit organizations such as the San Geronimo Valley Community Center and Mujeres Unidas y Activas.

Proudly, our staff, faculty and students joined a San Pablo delegation at the All American Cities Conference in Colorado representing the City of San Pablo.

And we are honored to have ended the year with Monsignor Anthony Valdivia blessing our newly added space, our staff, parents and children at our 2014 Christmas concert. Thank you Father Tony!

Production and Performance
We proudly released 30 new and archival video productions including the amazing animated video short Tata’s Gift, a 7-minute musical narrative that merges digital technology with indigenous Mexican textiles, video game imagery and original music.Tata’s Gift, a co-production of Los Cenzontles and Studios Dio, tells the story of a young boy finding personal strength through family and heritage.We also released music videos A Pair of Brown Eyes  and La Mula y el Arriero and the EP American Roulette.Our YouTube Channel now has 1.9 million views and 1500 subscribers. Subscribe today to receive updates.Los Cenzontles touring group began production on its cross cultural Zydeco Mexican Connection. The resulting CD Shades of Brown will be released early 2015.The touring group traveled to Los Angeles to perform at UCLA Royce Hall and the huge Hollywood Forever Día de los Muertos event. Additionally, the touring group was featured at the Napa Valley Opera House, Stanford University Bing Auditorium, The Green Center at Sonoma State University and the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco.
Supporting Roots Campaign
We are half way through the facility expansion and renovation! With great gratitude to our many supporters, we acquired the adjacent storefront adding 30% more overall space.We now have a new kitchen, art room, office and outdoor deck. We have new LED stage lights, an automated screen and mounted projector in the theater. With the increase in student capacity, we’ve developed new community programming to make the best use of our new space.We have now raised 70% of our overall fundraising goal and can’t wait to start Phase 2, which will provide us sound proofing, a new dance room, practice rooms, improved lighting, flooring and ADA upgrades.If you wish to know more about the Supporting Roots Campaign, please watch this video, visit us at the center or call 510-233-8015. 
Thank you for your support!!

Our Academy is thriving with happy children and vibrant culture, thanks to you! Los Cenzontles can only exist with your support! 

We invite you to click here to renew your membership!

Thank you for Joining Our Familia