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Celebrate Mexico Now! Festival Fetes the Diverse Contemporary Mexican Cultural Scene, 11/13-27

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Celebrate México Now! (November 13-27, 2012), New York's multi-site, multi-media festival of arts and culture, unites the diverse strands of Mexico's multifaceted cultural and intellectual landscape, from the cosmopolitan discourse of big cities to the innovative exploration of rural roots. The festival brings together Mexico's underground musicians (dark electro pin-up Selma Oxor's NYC debut; November 17), classically inflected roots music (harp virtuoso Celso Duarte; November 19), visually striking avant-garde explorations (flautist/multimedia artist Alejandro Escuer ; November 20), and internationally loved jazz mavens (singer-songwriter Magos Herrera; November 18).

With programs spanning the city and running the gamut from a major tribute to the late, great singer Chavela Vargas at Carnegie Hall (November 27) to family-friendly puppetry at a new Mexican-American community center (puppet theater Cornisa 20's Juguetes; November 24 & 25) and engaging talks on literature and visual art, Celebrate México Now! has established itself as both a conduit for hip glimpses of the evolving Mexican scene, and as a bridge between communities.

"The festival is living everything you read and hear in the arts world about community outreach, about audience and bridge building," reflects curator and mastermind Claudia Norman. "It's all about crossover, mixing the mainstream and trendy, and the community-based and grassroots."

This means more than creating programming that appeals to different audiences; it's about supporting homegrown offshoots of Mexican cultural forms, like the Brooklyn-based Banda de los Muertos (November 17), a crew of dedicated banda fans who have taken the dowdy music and made it hip again. "It's amazing to see people making banda cool because the music is very lively and fantastic," Norman relates. "You put it in a different context, and it's the coolest thing on earth. That's the way the festival strives to contextualize all these diverse elements, from high culture to cuisine. It encourages real engagement and real pride."

Full festival schedule and information at mexiconowfestival.org.

Highlights include:

November 27: Tribute to Chavela Vargas with Ely Guerra, Eugenia León, and Tania Libertad

Carnegie Hall

Three powerful voices in their own right explore the legacy and work of Mexico's queen of popular song, at the venue that saw one of her landmark performances. Created by Claudia Norman in consultation with Vargas before the singer passed earlier this year, this evening will showcase the many facets of the revered performer's career. León, esteemed for her interpretation of Mexican traditions from ranchera to bolero , will explore the folk songs Vargas made her own. Guerra, born in Monterrey and often compared to rock icons like PJ Harvey, will highlight Vargas's tales of love, redemption, and nostalgia. Libertad, a spirited singer who unites Latin and world music influences, will presented songs inspired by and performed by Vargas.

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