Guitarist Angelica Hernández, far right, dreamed as a girl of joining the Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles. She’ll arrive with the ensemble this Wednesday for a concert in Port Angeles. (photo courtesy Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles)

Guitarist Angelica Hernández, far right, dreamed as a girl of joining the Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles. She’ll arrive with the ensemble this Wednesday for a concert in Port Angeles. (photo courtesy Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles)

Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles to appear on Peninsula

Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts sponsors show

PORT ANGELES — As a girl of 12, Angelica Hernández had a feeling for music — unlike anyone else in her family.

“My parents knew,” Hernández recalled. “They were trying to bring me around the arts, to see what I was into.”

She was to discover what that was — still is — at a concert by Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles, the singing, playing, trailblazing ensemble of women who came to perform in Hernández’ hometown of Albuquerque, N.M.

“I knew that day: I’m going to play with them one day. I graduated from high school and moved to Los Angeles. And that’s what I did.”

Hernández, alongside her 11 compañeras in Mariachi Reyna, will arrive for a concert at the Port Angeles High School Performing Arts Center, 304 E. Park Ave., this Wednesday night.

The Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts is presenting the show at 7 p.m., with tickets available via and at Port Book and News in downtown Port Angeles.

For 13 years now, Hernández has immersed herself in the music of Mexico: the majestic, the romantic, the joyful and the always emotional.

She’s Mariachi Reyna’s guitar player; in the genre, this is a rhythm instrument, she noted. Were Reyna a different type of band, Hernández quips, she’d be the drummer.

Mariachi Reyna, formed in 1994 as the United States’ first all-female mariachi ensemble, is a whole different experience from what some may think of as mariachi, she added.

For one thing, this band is big — it’s a show group, Hernández said, larger than what you might see in a restaurant or at a party.

“It’s like watching theater,” she said; “you’re not going to see that in your backyard … and it will expand your mind as far as mariachi goes,” she said. An all-female group named Reyna — Spanish for queen — gives the music a different feeling.

Mariachi is a spacious form, Hernández added. There’s plenty of room for a medley of Selena songs; cumbias and son jarocho and bolero, as well as the old sound her parents, both born in Mexico, love listening to.

The Reyna repertoire highlights mariachi hits passed down from generation to generation, Hernández said, even as the ensemble’s members change. There are newer girls, such as 15-year-old harpist Giovanna Cabral, and there are long-standing players such as Laura Peña, the violinist who has been part of the group since 2000.

The arrival of new women brings in fresh energy, as does the vibrant mariachi scene surrounding them all in Los Angeles. And right now, Hernández said, a new wave of electricity courses through the group when they’re on stage.

“For two years we weren’t even able to see each other or practice or anything like that,” she said.

When the pandemic began, Mariachi Reyna didn’t know what was to become of live performance, of theaters, of the arts. What if it all stays shut down, they wondered.

Now, “we can all say we feel very grateful. We are all there for the right reasons.”

Reyna is touring again, promoting the group’s new album on Smithsonian Folkways. The ensemble’s strings-rich sound comes from six violins plus the vihuela, a small guitar, and the guitarron, a jumbo guitar; two trumpet players provide the brass. The women add their voices too, in choirlike singing and in the grito, a shout from the soul.

For Hernández, performing with Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles is, to this day, a girlhood dream made real.

Joining the band was and is “a matter of discipline. You feel it from the moment you walk into rehearsals,” she added.

“It’s a lot of work, a lot of dedication.”

Wednesday night’s performance is the last in the Season Concerts series before the Juan de Fuca Festival events, to begin with a prelude concert by The Sam Chase & the Untraditional on May 15 and the Memorial Day weekend festival itself May 27-30.

Tickets to Mariachi Reyna range from $10 for ages 14 and younger to $20 for economy seating, $30 for standard and $40 for premium seating.

Information and links to purchase are at while more details are available by phoning the office at 360-457-5411.


Jefferson County Senior Reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]

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