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Highlands Presents Antonia Apodaca Tribute Concert March 8

February 24, 2020

Photo of Antonia Apodaca

Antonia Apodaca
Photo Courtesy of Bayou Seco

Las Vegas, N.M. – The New Mexico Highlands University Department of Music presents an “Antonia Apodaca Tribute Concert” March 8 at 2 p.m. in the university’s historic Ilfeld Auditorium at 900 University Ave.

The free concert features New Mexico folk musical groups Bayou Seco, Trio Jalapeño, Lone Piñon and La Rondalla.

Antonia Apodoca was a legendary award-winning Rociada, New Mexico musician, performing traditional folk music of Northern New Mexico on her accordion for more than eight decades. She died Jan. 25, 2020, at the age of 96. Apodoca performed until she was 95.  

“I have had the unique opportunity of growing up with Antonia Apodaca’s passion for music and have celebrated every accomplishment she received,” said Apodaca’s son, Jose Apodaca. “My mother was indeed the consummate performer and has thrilled hundreds of audiences as she sang and danced to the rhythms of her own heartbeat.”

Jose Apodaca said the tribute concert will be a celebration of Antonia Apodaca’s life.

“The concert will feature musicians who my mother toured with and also musicians who will be playing her favorite music and original compositions,” Jose Apodaca said.

Jose Apodaca said it was a joy to collaborate with Highlands University music professor Andre García-Nuthmann to organize and produce the tribute concert for Antonia Apodaca.

“Antonia Apodaca was always so excited about sharing her music with everyone and her enthusiasm was intoxicating,” García-Nuthmann said. “The main gift she has bestowed not only to New Mexico, but also to the United States, is the legacy and continuance of our precious folk music. Because of Antonia, we now have recordings at the Smithsonian and musical groups, such as Lone Piñon and Bayou Seco, that are preserving our New Mexican musical legacy.”

García-Nuthmann said he met Antonia Apodaca in the 1980s when his father, Jose-Pablo García, a language professor at Highlands, created the Orquesta Tipica musical group on the university’s campus.

“Orquesta Tipica encompassed the true folk music of Northern New Mexico. My father gathered well- known New Mexico musicians, including Antonia Apodaca, to perform with Orquesta Tipica,” García-Nuthmann said.

Antonia Apodaca’s music received numerous awards during her long performing career. Most recently, she was named a winner of the New Mexico Music Commission’s Platinum Music Award for lifetime achievement in 2018.

In 1992, Apodaca received the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. The same year, she performed with Orquesta Tipica at the Smithsonian Folk Festival in Washington, D.C. as well as the George W. Bush White House.

Beginning in 2001, Apodaca performed in Nuestra Música, a folk music concert held annually in the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She performed for 16 consecutive years at Nuestra Música.

“My mother’s group, Trio Jalapeño, which included Ray Casias on guitar and Bernie Jaramillo on tololoche, was always met with a standing ovation at Nuestra Música. Over the years, my mother traveled throughout New Mexico performing with Trio Jalapeño,” Jose Apodaca said.

Antonia Apodaca toured nationally at folk festivals with the Bayou Seco musical duo from the late 1980s through 2012.

Apodoca, who was born in Rociada in 1923 into a family of musicians, started playing the accordion at the age of 6. She won her first musical competition in Santa Fe when she was just 14, competing against adults.

In 1942, Apodaca married another musician, Macario “Max” Apodaca, who was accomplished on the violinista. Antonia and Max had five children, raising their family in Wyoming before returning to New Mexico in 1979. Antonia and Max performed folk music together until his death in 1987.

“Every time my parents performed together it was a beautiful celebration, whether it was at a folk festival, wedding or baptism. They played in perfect harmony because they loved each other so much and loved playing together. It was always delightful to see how much joy they brought to the community with their music,” Jose Apodaca said.

Jose Apodaca said the community is invited to attend Antonia Apodaca’s funeral services March 7 at 9 a.m. at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Las Vegas at 403 Valencia.