All Together Now

At this weekend's "La Noche Buena," an evening of Latino holiday music, San Antonio songstress Tish Hinojosa joins El Quinto Sol in a traditional posada, a Christmas song about Mary and Joseph searching for an inn.

You would think that Hinojosa, who was born in Texas to Mexican parents, had grown up singing posadas in holiday processions, but that's not the case. "As far as learning las posadas and the procession, I've done more as an adult with my kids at their schools," she says. "We didn't do it when we were little. It was more about assimilation and less about cultures."

Now, things have changed. Latino Christmas traditions have come into their own. And "La Noche Buena," with its Latino performers from all over the world, celebrates the diversity even within these traditions. As event producer Rose Reyes notes, "Even though our language brings us together, or the fact that we eat tamales for Christmas, we're all different."

Nowhere is that clearer than in the ensemble El Quinto Sol. With members from Chile, the Canary Islands, Bolivia and Mexico, the band plays it all -- from Argentinean sambas and vidalas to Peruvian waltzes and Chilean-Indian music. Besides posadas, El Quinto Sol will perform villancicos, Christmas songs with roots in Latino communities across the globe. "We're trying to cover all the expressions of Latin America," says member Ángel Ibañez.

What Hinojosa brings to the show is the Mexican-American tradition; her music combines both English and Spanish lyrics, as well as folk, country and pop styles. Round Rock's Ballet Folklórico adds a theatrical element with its traditional Mexican folk dances. And lest anyone forget about Houston's own Latino community, the local students in the award-winning Mariachi MECA perform Spanish ditties from the old days.

"For us what's important is that these aren't just traditions of Latin America," says Reyes. "They're alive in this country."

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Cathy Matusow
Contact: Cathy Matusow