One of the highlights of the 15th Annual Nuestra Música concert at the Lensic on April 10, a concert celebrating New Mexico's musical heritage, was the performance by Cipriano Vigil and his family, including his son Cipriano Pablo Vigil, daughter Felicita Vigil Piñon, and two cute-as-a-button grandsons. To hear Sr. Vigil create the wails and moans of La Llorona by strumming a bow up and down a vibrating handsaw is to feel the bite of chile verde and the chill of an autumn night settling over the Sangres ... to experience New Mexico in your body, heart and soul.
Born and raised in the small northern New Mexico town of Chamisal, Vigil learned to play music from family members and local musicians who gathered at "resolanas" in each other's houses where they would play and share music together. Initially completely self-taught, Vigil went on to receive a BA in Music Education from Highlands University, a Master's from Highlands in Bilingual Education, a Master's in Ethnomusicology from the National Institute of Fine Arts in Mexico, and a Ph.D. for good measure in Ethnomusicology from New Mexico College, while teaching, giving presentations at the Smithsonian, recording CDs, writing a book, composing and performing. Phew.
For several years, Vigil has gone into schools to teach children in grades 3 through 6 to build their own unique cigar box guitar. Students learn simple songs on their instruments, which they perform for parents and friends at the end of the school year, and get to keep the instrument they created. Children learn and experience the traditional music of New Mexico from a living master of this tradition.
Because of school budget cutbacks, Vigil has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the project, with a goal of $10,000 by May 3. The campaign offers "rewards" for contributions of various increments, including a CD of traditional New Mexico folk music for $60; a cigar box kit for $250; your own three-string cigar box guitar made by Cipriano and a CD for $500, and several others.
To pledge, or learn more, click here, or go to www.kickstarter.com and search for Cipriano Vigil or cigar box guitars.