The New Mexico Musical Heritage Project is a unique studio and classroom environment where students learn both the art of playing and the craft of making violins. The shop acts within New Mexico's rich cultural and historical contexts.
Peter White, an English and American Studies professor, folklorist, and former UNM administrator, is the director of this interdisciplinary program. He is also an American and European-trained violin-maker. In the tradition of many craftsman before him - and through the generosity of donors, UNM, and the State of New Mexico Legislature - Dr. White has created a studio and classroom in which to pass his knowledge onto UNM students.
We wish to thank all our contributors throughout New Mexico who have helped make this program possible. Together, we are truly hand-crafting history. Thank you.
There is substantial evidence that the European violin was crafted first in America by the Pueblo peoples and the Hispanic settlers in early 17th century New Mexico. The Franciscan priests and artisans of Mexico most likely taught Native Americans and New Mexican colonists how to make violins many decades before violin making was introduced to New Englanders and even before the birth of the most famous makers of 17th century Cremona, Italy.
Both for liturgical and ritual services and at social functions and dances, the violin has been central to the cultural history of this state. Tomas Lozano's book Cantemos al Alba, John D. Robb's Hispanic Folk Music of New Mexico and the Southwest, and Weigle and White's The Lore of New Mexico, among many other studies, comfirm the long and fabulously interesting history of violin playing in New Mexico.
Today the traditions of making and playing the violin for folk or ritual performance are in great jeopardy in New Mexico, with only a handful of elders in the Hispanic and Native communities still able to pass on the tradition of folk and ritual violin music in the state.
If you are interested in the New Mexico Musical Heritage Project, would like information about visiting or joining the shop, or have any other questions don't hesitate to contact Peter White.