Before going on stage, Camila Gallardo Check that your saxhorn sounds good. He is 10 years old and already moves his fingers with ease between the pistons of his instrument. But tonight she is nervous because it is the first time she is going to play in the heart of Mexico City: the Zócalo.
The wait happens in an area closed to the public and located in front of the Cathedral, where several white tents serve as dressing rooms. In addition to tuning up her golden musical ally, the little girl checks that her traditional dress is impeccable, that her two braids are not messy, and she occasionally talks to other girls who are also part of the orchestra. Women of the Flowering Wind.
10 minutes before 8 p.m. someone gives the notice to go on stage. Then, Camila hugs the saxhorn to her chest and walks towards where her classmates are grouped by orchestral section, and when she steps on the first step to go up to the enormous stage, her nervous face finally breaks into a smile.
She is an example that with music, specifically with a project like this that commands Leticia Gallardoanother reality is possible.
Another reality is possible
In 2006, the Oaxacan municipality of Santa María Tlahuitoltepeclocated in the mixe region —tterritory of 4 thousand 668 square kilometers divided between 19 municipalities, according to him National Institute of Indigenous Peoples —, saw the idea of a female orchestra emerge, something that became official until 2009 with the birth of the Women of the Flowering Wind.
“I am happy because each of the companions is growing with new ways: that traveling is possible, knowing places through music is possible, meeting artists like Mon Laferte either Lila Downs It’s possible,” he says. Leticia Gallardo Martínezdirector and manager of the group, MILLENNIUM.
The Teacher Leti He received musical training from childhood: his father, being the founder of the Center for Musical Training and Development of Mixe Culture (Cecam), instilled in him a taste for sounds, from which he no longer wanted to detach himself.
About your choice of music as a way of lifesay what “mand has helped to heal, to meet many people, many places, work for women and children. It has given me a lot of learning because I never studied band conducting, there is no school that teaches you that, I was trained through practice and today I am in charge of an organization that is a reference at the state level. “It’s a big responsibility, but I do it with great pleasure.”
Women of the Flowering Wind germinated to counteract the few alternatives for artistic development of women of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec and surrounding regions; Leticia opened the possibility of an artistic path, of going beyond just starting a family and taking care of the home.
“I have a lot of hope in each of them because I am sure that, after a presentation, they arrive with their family, talk and the father, the mother or the brother are changing their mentality. These are things that we are achieving. For me it is significant when they come and say ‘This happens in my family, my dad is very happy,’ it becomes something bigger.”
At first, the project had to overcome obstacles and sexist prejudices – the region’s orchestras were only made up of men, a woman as a member was frowned upon – but Leticia’s tenacity has overcome any difficulties in pursuit of extending her objective: that For indigenous women, another reality is possible.
“I want other indigenous women to come and have the opportunities to perform in these venues, and indigenous women not only from Oaxaca but from Guerrero, Chiapas, Michoacán. The dream is for it to be another space for them. I don’t want us to be the only female band, we would like to meet many more and play together. It is difficult because we still have to work on the cultural field in the towns, it is difficult to open spaces, but we are taking the first step for others to come,” emphasizes the director of the orchestra.
The icy sensation of the capital’s morning succumbs to the gradual advance of the Sun. It is Sunday, December 17, 2023 and Zocalo of the city of mexico It is filled with decorations that commemorate the Christmas season.
It is barely 10 in the morning and the Women of the Flowering Wind already have their instruments in their hands, ready for the sound test. They arrived almost an hour ago a truck from Oaxaca, so they come very warm and some still look sleepy, but at the same time there are plenty of smiles because of what this event means.
On stage, the staff and audio engineers arrange music stands, chairs, microphones and, if they move during the day, they put marks on the floor with adhesive tape. With this ready, the orchestra takes the stage.
But it does not upload in full, but by section. First the groups of wind instruments and at the end the percussions. To organize the test, teacher Leticia is not in charge, but his daughter and right hand, Diana Gabriela Martínez Gallardo.
Diana’s instructions are executed with precision by the 40 members of the ensemble, who keep their scores in orange folders; Those that have put marks or drawings on its pages stand out as a way to personalize them.
A day in Oaxaca It is one of the compositions that women play to check the effectiveness of the audio. Meanwhile, the esplanade, still motionless, only hosts a few police officers who observe them from a distance.
At the close of the test, the faces of the Women of the Flowering Wind They are no longer oblivious to morning drowsiness: that heat of emotion, of joy, invades them. It will be a good night invoking the rhythms of their land from the capital; a good night to do what they love: music.
“This union does have strength”
Mujeres del Viento Florido is an orchestra made up of women with “ddifferent in languages, attitudes and occupations; There are accountants, housewives, peasants,” he says. Diana Gabriela, who also finds the intergenerational coexistence with “female companions from 10 years old to 47”.
The person responsible for the tuba remembers that as a child her mother tried to get her to learn to play clarinet, but she rejected it. Leticia accepted this without question.
“She never forced me. If he teaches music it is because he wants you to, it is not that he forces you; He is someone who inspires you to do it without forcing. I feel that peace with her and that is what I admire the most.“.
Diana opted for the larger wind instrument and began her sound journey, being aware of the importance of preserve the traditional music of your region and not to forget those who ‘crushed stones’ so that I would have a less rough path.
“It is important to value those who went through (Mujeres del Viento Florido) before me. Without them, they are the ones who suffered the biggest trials, machismo… Right now they hardly tell us anything because they know that we are very united, it is something nice to recognize that This union does have strength“.
To verify this force, just see which they got in 2023: in addition to its presentation in the Zócalo, the orchestra accompanied Mon Laferte in the Palace of Fine Arts; collaborated with the international collective Snowapple in an event held at the Esperanza Iris City Theater; and sounded one night National Fair of San Marcosin Aguascalientes.
Regarding digital, he maintained more than 5 thousand monthly listeners on Sopotify, surpassed 13.9 thousand followers on Instagram, 42 thousand fans on Facebook and 4.2 thousand subscribers on YouTube.
“It’s about sharing, living bad and good experiences. In the end, We are a family and we are here for whatever each one needs.“, says Diana.
After an hour of show in the Zócalo, the Women of the Flowering Wind They leave the stage wanting to continue playing. Time, governed by that axiom that the more you enjoy it, the faster it runs, prevented them from presenting the last part of the set they had prepared.
Despite this, smiles, caused by the applause and cheers of the public, flood everyone’s faces.
And Camila, still energized and with her instrument in her hands, takes time to reveal to MILLENNIUM that big stages make her nervous, but she always ends up “happy.” Like tonight.
He started playing at the age of 5 because he liked the music of Leticia, his aunt, “and I told my dad that I wanted to join. First I went to music theory andOr I wanted to play trumpet, but they told me to play the horn sax because there weren’t that many instruments. I said yes and from there I started to like it, I don’t want to change anymore.”
Since it was not difficult for him to learn the musical scales, his stage debut happened quickly: at an event on the program Oaxaqueñisimas. “lMost people at my school ask me where I go to music classes.“, says.
Then, he confesses what it was like to meet Mon Lafertewho in the middle of the Fine Arts stage took time to greet her: “I felt very happy because it was the first time I played with Mon; some girls went with her to Chile and New York, but I’m younger and that’s why they didn’t take me, but I felt very happy.”
The time for dinner and rest is approaching, so Camila says goodbye with a message addressed to girls who, like her, dream big: “May they never give up, may they keep going, may they fulfill their dreams.”
“I have seen that many want to fulfill their dreams, but at the same time they want to do another job and their mother tells them ‘What are you going to choose?’, and I want them to fulfill what they really want, to not lose faith“.