hermanas_color-2~ By Celeste DeMonte, Fresno Community Chorus; artwork courtesy of Pamela Enriquez-Courts

In a celebration of music for Día de los Muertos and All Saints Day, Fresno Community Chorus Master Chorale performs in a joint concert with student mariachi groups from Roosevelt High School and Fresno State.

This concert provides the opportunity to explore the common ground of different cultures sharing the same holiday while living in the Central Valley. Halloween, All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Eve – that favorite day of children’s trick-or-treat activities – has its roots in long-standing observances dedicated to remembering the dead. For some traditions, this is the one night of the year when souls of departed loved ones return to earth.

The concert will be at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, in the Roosevelt High School Auditorium, 4250 E. Tulare Ave., Fresno. Tickets are $7 each.

Although historians believe the celebrations have their traditions in ancient harvest festivals, there is no doubt that current activities were strongly influenced by the Catholic Church. Día de Muertos, the Mexican holiday also called Día de los Muertos in the U.S., includes various traditions that honor the deceased, including giving gifts of marigolds, favorite foods and drinks, and sugar skulls. The familiar skeleton figure is meant to mock death rather than to frighten people.

The Western-European portion of the concert starts under the baton of Fresno Master Chorale Artistic Director Anna Hamre with the famous “Requiem” (Mass for the Dead), written at the end of the 18th century by French Catholic composer Gabriel Fauré. The secular side of the holiday is highlighted in the second half of the concert with contributions from Fresno State and Roosevelt mariachi ensembles.

All musicians come together at the end of the concert to sing the Mexican folksong about a witch, “La Bruja.” Finally, we invite the audience to join us in our celebratory finale “Cielito Lindo,” in which we the share the central message of this concert: “Sing and don’t cry, because … singing … gladdens the hearts.”

Fresno Community Chorus Master Chorale celebrates its 61st season this season. Purchase tickets online at the FCCMC website  (small service fee applies), call 559.709.6245, or email fresnocommunitychorus@gmail.com. Tickets are also available on the day of the concert at the Roosevelt High School Auditorium box office starting at 3:15.