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Canales Conjunto gaining renown after TMEA appearance

February 16, 2017 GMT

Several years ago, the drill team at J.T. Canales Elementary School wanted to be in the Charro Days Children’s Parade and asked Santiago Castillo to put together some music to accompany the performance.

Castillo, the music specialist at Canales, already had an afterschool group going, so “I went ahead and taught them a one-chord song, and from there it just sort of blew up,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “This was in 2009-2010.”

The one-chord song turned out to be an instant hit. People loved seeing the children perform to live music and the afterschool band turned into the J.T. Canales Elementary Conjunto, one of the elementary school honors ensembles invited to perform at this year’s Texas Music Educators Association convention in San Antonio.

The Canales Conjunto already was getting invitations to perform, but after the TMEA appearance, interest spiked, Castillo said. The group has been invited to perform in the 36th annual Tejano Conjunto Festival from May 24 through 28 in San Antonio and has been getting all sorts of calls about appearing in other venues. They’re on the program for Sombrero Festival, he said.

Castillo said the conjunto’s performance at the TMEA convention likely had something to do with the festival invitation to San Antonio, a city well-known for conjunto music. This was the first time a conjunto had performed at the convention.

“It was a big hit. It was something new to them, even though San Antonio is known for conjunto music,” he said. “It felt like it was more appreciated. They’ve had mariachi and estudiantina groups — and now conjunto.”

glong@brownsvilleherald.com

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