The music a person enjoyed in life is one element used in an ofrenda.
A few years ago, when classical guitarist Salvador García was in graduate school, his family experienced a series of painful months, during which several members died. García can relate to the losses the Latinx community is facing during COVID-19. Like most, he couldn’t attend his family members’ funerals.
García and Joe Williams are co-artistic directors of Austin Classical Guitar. This year, for the first time, ACG is honoring the dead with musical ofrendas, in partnership with the Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin. Garcia told Texas Standard that the Día de los Muertos tradition brought him comfort in the aftermath of losing family members.
“It was a very emotional experience,” García said. “But at the same time, it’s happiness to know that I had at least that tradition to deal with some grief, and be able to celebrate the life that I shared with them.”
Williams said ACG invited artists from around Texas to make video for this year’s ofrendas.
“Many of the artists commented that they didn’t know that they needed this,” Williams said. “And so grateful that they were part of a community that was making this.”
The ACG ofrendas include performances by artists who weren’t necessarily familiar with the tradition, and who aren’t classical performers, García said. He wanted to be sure that everyone had the space to create something that was meaningful to them.
“This is a tradition where we honor and love those who we remember best, and sometimes the way that you remember your loved ones can be emotional, can be sad. But other times, it comes out as joyful, and I think that’s a great experience to be a part of,” he said.