FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 5, 2004
Contact: Rogelio Nunez
Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center
P.O. Box 471
San Benito, Texas 78586
Cultural Center Hires New Director
SAN BENITO, TX The Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center in San Benito is pleased to announce the hiring of Rio Grande Valley native and public radio journalist Cristina Balli as the new Director of Development and Programming, effective April 5, 2004.
Balli leaves her position of producer at Public Radio 88 FM, KMBH/KHID, where she hosted the segment "Fine Arts Focus". A native of Brownsville, she earned a bachelor of social work at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. After practicing in the field of child welfare and mental health for eight years, she switched careers to public broadcasting. She produced several radio documentaries for KMBH/KHID, including "La Hora de la Guitarra: the Life of Maria Aurora Arrese and the Estudiantina Movement in Brownsville", "Celebrating 50 Years of the Valley Symphony Orchestra and Chorale", "Classic 88 FM's Voices of Christmas", and "Celebrating Our People: Los del Valle". Balli provided technical assistance for the initial season of "North of the Border", a public radio program of Mexican roots music. She also contributes a music column to the local arts and culture publication, "The Mesquite Review".
"It is very difficult to leave public radio", said Balli, "but I am looking forward to my future at NMCAC. The time is ripe for the development of arts and culture in the Rio Grande Valley and I am honored and excited to be a part of that growth. The Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center represents the unique mixture of talent, creativity and cultures surfacing from this area; I believe that by preserving and promoting the arts, NMCAC contributes to the social, economic, political and spiritual betterment of our community."
The Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center is an organization dedicated to the preservation, promotion and development of the rich cultural and historical heritage of the Mexicano community. This heritage includes the visual arts, music, theatre, dance and literary works. Established in 1991, NMCAC was named after Narciso Martinez, who was known as ìthe father of conjunto music.
Born on October 29, 1911, in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, and raised in the community of La Paloma along Old Military Highway, Martinez was one of the first to combine the German accordion with Mexican guitars to form the embryonic conjunto music style. Together with bajo sexto player Santiago Almeida, Martinez made musical history with the 1936 recording of the polka "La Chicharronera" and the schottische "El Tronconal" on the Bluebird record label. His fruitful music career earned Martinez the epithet of "El Huracan del Valle", as well as a National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1983.
Martinez's work represents the unique blending of cultures and experiences of the Texas-Mexico border, and captures the essence and philosophy that NMCAC seeks to preserve and promote.
Current NMCAC activities include a writerís forum held every first Tuesday of the month at 7:00 p.m.; "El Second Weendsdee", an oral history series on conjunto music held every second Wednesday of the month at 7:00 p.m.; accordion lessons every Thursday evening; "North of the Border" airing on Public Radio 88 FM Fridays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.; and the annual 16 de Septiembre Celebration/Narciso Martinez Conjunto Festival.
The Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center is located at 220 E. Stenger St., San Benito, Texas. Visits can be scheduled by calling (956) 361-0110.
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