Because I love music, a lot of musicians end up in my novels. In MARIACHI MURDER, Andy Veracruz is a band leader in Southern California… until he really gets into trouble!

Posts tagged ‘mexico’

Rossini and Verdi Rock the Opera Festival in Oaxaca, Mexico

Last weekend I had the immense pleasure of playing for the opera festival in Oaxaca, Mexico. It came about because orchestra conductor Linus Lerner, Maribel Sánchez, and their cohorts had the grand idea to bring young singers to Oaxaca. Linus and Maribel collected soloists, chorus members, orchestra members, and even dancers to put on a supreme show. Sponsors from SASO helped fund the gala event.

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The soloists were from all over Mexico. They included Jorge Jiménez from Guadalajara singing Ponchielli’s “Cielo y mar” and Gabriel Navarro from Mexico City singing Wagner’s “Abendstern.” We performed 32 pieces altogether, starting with an overture from “La forza del destino.”


We had a wonderful combination of pieces written by composers ranging from Vivaldi to Verdi. Hits included Donizetti’s “Quel guardo il cavaliere” and the Anvil song (Gypsy song) from Il Trovatore. The singers performed in Italian, French, and German. Many of the pieces were solos. Others were duets. In the case of “Si ritrovarla io giuro” the soloist claimed he would find Cinderella while his attendants swore to help him!


We performed our first concert in the Teatro Macedonio Alcalá. The event was free, but seating was limited. When we arrived, there was a line that stretched all the way around the block! We performed for an exceedingly attentive audience who didn’t seem to mind that we had such a long program! Instead they wanted more. After we played the “Brindisi” from La Traviata, they wouldn’t let us go home! We had to perform it again.


We had a chance to perform the concert on Sunday as well, this time at Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Nieves. (The priests kindly let us use their church at the last minute.) This was a smaller venue, so it was more intimate. Because the church had wonderful acoustics, opera music went sailing through the streets.


The festival came after a week of long rehearsals for the musicians from the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra from Tucson combined with local musicians. Saturday we had a six-hour rehearsal! But our efforts were well rewarded. We’re already happy about the prospects of coming back again next year.


Naturally, the parties afterwards were pretty good too!


Photos compliments of Jorge Jimenez and Maribel Sanchez

D.R. Ransdell is a Tucson-based novelist. To read about her series featuring a totally different kind of musician, mariachi violinist Andy Veracruz, please see

Andy’s first adventure is titled MARIACHI MURDER.


Female Mariachis? Of course!


Last week I had the pleasure to attend Left Coast Crime in Monterey, California. Left Coast is a big mystery conference with participants from all over the country as well as from Canada and Europe. For four days I attended panels. I listened to well-known writers such as Sue Grafton and Cara Black. I heard Louise Penny and William Kent Kreuger. I was there to learn from these writers, emulate them, and be inspired by them.

But of course I had an agenda. I was also there to plug Mariachi Murder. When I moderated a panel on dialogue, I sneaked in some information about my own book. When I had the opportunity to introduce myself at a breakfast for new mystery writers, I explained that after spending twenty-five years in a mariachi, I had a lot of stories. I’d heard confessions. I’d heard marriage proposals. I’d heard murderous wishes of men desperate to be rid of their wives or their mothers-in-law. In short, my experiences had given me plenty of people to kill off in a murder series.

The funny thing was that for the rest of the conference, I got questions about the mariachi thing. “I thought only men played in mariachis,” ten different people said to me. I was astonished at their question. While it was a bit unusual for women to play in mariachis when I started playing in a group in 1987, it wasn’t new even at that time. And now it’s rather commonplace, at least in Arizona and California. (It’s still not commonplace in Mexico. Give the country another thirty years.)
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I was surprised that I needed to set people straight. Some didn’t even seem to believe me. I had to whip out my promotional material in which I’m wearing a traje. Their response was not negative. No one thought women shouldn’t play in such a group; they were simply incredulous that women did so. I got this from men and women of all ages who were from the Midwest or back East.

I was happy to set them straight. I was happy to let them know that most groups are up-to-date in terms of equal opportunity employment. (Not all of them, of course.) But most of all,I got to celebrate the fact that I’m really, really lucky. Not only do I have the opportunity to play for a mariachi, but I even have the chance to write about it.

For more information, please see


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