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Fandango at Sonoma CD

Los Californios, The Alta California Orchestra Instruction Booklet and CD"
Los Californios TACO Cover painting Fandango CD
Painting of "The Alta California Orchestra" by William Gilkerson


More about the orchestra at "The Alta California Orchestra"
INCLUDING CURRENT PERFORMANCES IN JUNE 2010!


CD AVAILABLE; Remixed at Peter Temples Studio, we've added all the tunes from the 1996 original recording. (scroll to bottom of page)
Showcasing dance music of late 1800's and early 1900's California, by The Alta California Orchestra., scroll down past discription to purchase; "Fandango at Sonoma" ITS CD01.

"Fandango at Sonoma" is a celebration of the ethnic music that was brought to California during the 1800's and early 1900's. President Polk's vision of manifest destiny inspired hundreds of thousands of people to migrate to the land of Califia. They came by land and by sea seeking their fortunes. Many perished, yet many lived on to become the founders of what is now one of the largest economic communities in the world.

A diverse ethnicity formed Old California's dance and music traditions, filling a social and cultural need of the European, Mexican, South & Central American, Hawaiian and Russian immigrants arriving at California's shores and borders. Alta Californios, geographically isolated as they were, naturally performed the music and dances from their homelands. This emerging tradition brought together a polyglot of new adaptations and sturdy forms of music which have been preserved largely intact. Much of this delightful music has, however, not been performed for over a hundred years.

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K-12 Teachers and Dance instructors!!
You may want to also buy OUR NEW CD AND INSTRUCTION BOOKLET: "California Folk Dance Traditions Instruction" Click here to review and purchase Dance Traditions Instruction Booklet and CD or buy all 3; including "Fandango at Sonoma" CD

Los Californios, The Alta California Orchestra, All The Fandango evolved from Spain and later came simply to mean dance in general. The earlier Fandangos had a set order of dances with a Dancing Master or "Tecolero" leading off each dance. Fandangos became the informal dances of the Rancho era where lavish feasts were held, and foods like mussels, huckleberries, and mutton would have been served. The women, seated apart from the men, were introduced by the Tecolero while the men remained on horseback with their spurs hung across their saddle as an indication of their desire to dance. The Tecolero would often begin dancing with a lady, the other men then dismounting to cut in.

Los Calif. Orchestra, Deborah Fischbach, Lee Birch and Ernie Fischbach seated with mandolin. Mariano Vallejo described such events in vivid terms: "...The evenings were given over to pure merriment. Every hacienda had its stringed band of several pieces; the harp, guitar, and violin... and once in a while, a flute. And every night rain or shine... except in time of death or sorrow... there was a baile. In this every one had his part. The elder people stepped the stately contradanza. The budding generations enjoyed the waltz and the beautiful Spanish folk dances to the accompaniment of the castanets, and even the little ones had their own figures to romp through. In short, the occasion was one for all-around pleasure of the natural unconscious style, without restraint or starchiness, where not a few, but everyone enjoyed themselves. I am an old man now, but I was young once and remember that time very well indeed..."

"In old California, before the Gringo came - the California of the Franciscan Missions and the vast Ranchos- they lived the happiest, the most human, the most beautiful life... anywhere under the Sun. There was no Grand Opera - and no fool songs. . . There were Songs of the Soil, and songs of poets and of troubadours, in this far, lone, beautiful, happy land; and songs that came over from Mother Spain and up from Stepmother Mexico. But everyone sang, and a great many made their own songs, or verses to other songs. Not being musical critics, they felt music, and arrived at It; and the Folksong of Spanish America is a treasure of inexhaustible beauty and extent..."

Charles T. Lummis, Los Angeles, November, 1923

NOTE: Robert Thomas' vision of reviving this music has come true and one can find many groups of dancers and musicians throughout California, some using the name Los Californios and others using similar or more original names. In 1997 Los Californios (the band started by Robert Thomas) added The Alta California Orchestra to their name to avoid confusion with other California bands. All these groups ARE Los Californios in the tradition of the early California Fandango and its people.

The music presented on this CD album has been researched and gathered from diverse sources by the musicians over a period of some twenty years. The selections are varied and rather eclectic, representing the tastes of the musicians and covering roughly a 100 year period of development of music in California. Further, the selections are not played in a formal orchestral manner, but rather in a spontaneous style that one would encounter in early California while attending a fandango, a wedding, a birthday, or simply an informal gathering of friends who would have enjoyed coming together on almost any occasion and playing the music from their varied ethnic backgrounds. This style of playing music still exists today in many areas of the world, e. g. Europe, Asia and Africa, Latin America, and to some extent in North America in places like Appalachia, Louisiana, California and many seaport towns and other locales where ethnic groups have settled and flourished. We hope you enjoy this music, where the focus is not on a formal theatrical presentation, but rather on the music itself.

The Tunes
1. Valtz Jota - Lively Californio adaption of a Spanish Jota.
2. Es El Amour Mariposa - "Butterfly Love" A true Californio song from the Los Angeles Basin.
3. El Borracho/Contradanza de Sonoma - An imaginitive mix of the drunk and the dance. We see a lone slightly tipsy gentleman, carried away by the music and into the contradanza.
4. Alma Angelina - "The Spanish Waltz" A lovely song, which is still popular in Mexico today.
5. Buffalo Gals/Heel & Toe Polka - Old West original tune and a European Polka.
6. Contradanza de Los Angeles - A California version of "The Green Hills of Tyrol," a beautiful European tune.
7. El Coyote - A popular Early California "game" dance, usually danced by children. The name suggests Native American Indian influence here. Native Americans often made up Mission orchestras.
8.Las Blancs Flores - "The White Flowers" found in the Charles Lummis Collection of tunes at the Southwest Museum in Pasadena, CA.
9. Varsouvianna de Watstonville - Many renditions of this European dance were played in California. This version is often called "Put Yer Lil' Foot".
10. La Contradanza de Monterey - Traditional group dance of Monterey, with influences from Mexico and Hawaii.
11. Song of the Islands
12. Hawaiian Melody
13. La Bruxa - " The Souceress" This haunting melody was written by folk musician, Anton Seoane from Galicia (in Northern Spain), Anton is a founding member of the band "Milladoiro".
14.Samba Choro - Choro was developed in the 1870's in Brazil and migrated to California with the Portuguese Settlers.
15. Mi Votu e Mi Revotu/Tarentella - A Sicilian Love Song and a dance tune from Southern Italy.
16. Dona Dona - Delightful love song from Northern Italy.
17. Tarentella de la Mafioso - This is the famous Tarentella of the outlaws from the mountains of Sicily. An early California favorite.
Los Californios, The Alta California Orchestra 9
The Musicians (left to right)
Melissa Fischbach - Percussion, Vocals; Lead on El Amour Mariposa-#10
Brian Steeger - Violin    Barbara S. Brown - Ukulele, Percussion, Vocals
Lee Birch - Violin, Tolaloche (playing guitar here)     Deborah Fischbach - Drum, Triangle, Tambourine,
Sylvestre JP Lee - Diatonic Accordion     Marianne Steeger - Guitar, Back-up vocals
Ernest Lee Fischbach - Mandolin, Jews Harp, Vocals; Lead on Alma Angelina-#5 and Mi Votu-#12
David "Carmelito" Brown - Bass, Steel Guitar, Mandolin, Flute, Guitar
Chris Caswell - Harp, Pennywhistle (not in photo)

All selections for "Fandango at Sonoma" were adapted from public domain music.
All Arrangements by the Los Californios, The Alta California Orchestra.
Executive Producers; 1996 - Trent Anderson; 2002 - Institute for Traditional Studies
Engineer - Chris Caswell at Philo's Studio, Comptche, CA
2002 Remix Engineer - Bruce Patch, Mesa Studio, Sebatopol, CA
2002 Booklet Design - Melissa Fischbach
Production Manager - Deborah Fischbach
Musical Director - Ernest Fischbach
Cover Illustration - William Gilkerson


We've done a remix (really sounds great!) of "Fandango at Sonoma" in early 2009.
Buy it NOW!
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The Institute For Traditional Studies Merchandise Dept

for $13.07, California residents please add $1.08 sales tax.

For Teacher's discount scroll down

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Special teachers 25% discount on Fandango at Sonoma CD.

For your discount, please email or send with check; the name of your school, grades taught.
CD = $13.07 -25% = $9.80 plus Shipping = $5.60 for US priority mail or $2.75 for US media mail. CA residents add $ .81 tax.

K-12 Teachers and Dance instructors!!
You may want to also buy OUR NEW CD AND INSTRUCTION BOOKLET: "California Folk Dance Traditions Instruction" Click here to review and purchase or to buy all 3; Dance Traditions Instruction booklet and CD and "Fandango at Sonoma" CD at a discount rate for all.

If your business or non-profit company would like wholesale and non-profit discount information; you can call Deborah Fischbach: (707) 937-2133 e-mail or write ITS merchandise.


TERMS; All orders shipped within 3 days of payment, if you don't recieve in 10 days call me.
Returns; No returns on CD's unless broken in shipping; please call Deborah at 707 937 2133 for a return authorization if broken in shipping.

ITS also offers a free "Fandango at Sonoma" CD with a minimum $40.00 donation, proceeds will further the Robert D. Thomas (7/21/38-12/16/93) DVD, "Memories of a True Rennaissance Man," or you may specify a project for your donation to fund.


Return to ITS, The Institute For Traditional Studies' Homepage

Check out; "California Folk Dance Traditions Instruction Booklet and CD"

More on the Orchestra and their K-12 Residencies at "The Alta California Orchestra"

Other world music programs sponsored by the Institute; World Music K-12 and higher.