With the help of Alberto Montellano Mazas, a well-respected musician, native of Villa Hidalgo Yalalag, Oaxaca, “Banda Filarmónica Santa Maria Xochixtepec” began their first music lessons in 1978. The first students who became part of the formation of the band were community members that settled in Los Ángeles, California, along with eager first generation Xochixtepec Oaxaqueño- Americans, yearning to understand the traditional music that made their family so proud. And with time, the band began to thrive and interested children of settled migrants joined this wonderful tradition. To this day, the band is currently in their fourth generation of musicians who are learning music. The band is proud to say that it is formed by either natives or descendants of Santa Maria Xochixtepec.
One of the first pioneering bands to participate in the inaugural Guelaguetza Festival in 1987 with the “Organización Regional Oaxaqueño” in Normandie Park. They also had the opportunity to travel to Santa Maria Xochixtepec in 1979, 1984,1993 and 2001 to participate in the annual celebration of the town. In 2004, the band recorded and released their first CD dedicated to their founding band director Alberto Montellano Mazas.
Ernesto Cruz Valente is a first generation Xochixtepec Oaxacan-American began his musical studies with Banda Filarmonica Santa Maria Xochixtepec under Luis Hilario Hernandez. He then continued his studies at California State University, Northridge and received a Bachelors in Music 2013. He then went to California Institute of The Arts to pursue his Masters in Fine Arts and completed his degree in 2015. He had the privilege of studying under Julia Heinen, William Powell, Susie Allen and Mark Menzies. Ernesto is the current band director for Banda Filarmónica Santa Maria Xochixtepec.