Although they came to music via a somewhat different route, Contemporary Mexican prodigies the Villalobos Brothers also enjoy classical music pedigrees and have shared stages with classical powerhouses like the San Francisco Symphony.
Born and raised in Xalapa, Mexico, the three siblings—Alberto, Ernesto, and Luis—inherited a passion for playing violin from their grandmother, who would entertain workers and guests at rural fandangos or in local seafood restaurants. They soon were learning to sing and play piano, even becoming adept on jaranas, the thin-bodied Mexican guitar.
All three then went on to study abroad. Ernesto, the eldest brother, won a Fulbright Grant that took him to the Manhattan School of Music. Middle brother Alberto studied with Igor Oistrakh at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels before being selected by Pierre Boulez to join the Lucerne Festival Academy. Finally, Luis, the youngest, won a place at the Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg and then at Salzburg’s prestigious Mozarteum. As a trio, their original compositions and arrangements fuse the distinctive sounds and rhythms of the traditional music of their region in Mexico with elements of classical and jazz.
Over the years, their collaborations have been diverse and eclectic, including with Bruce Springsteen, Dolly Parton, and Regina Carter, while their performances have taken them from Latin America to India, Russia, Canada, and all across the United States with celebrated appearances at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. They have been called on to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the United Nations and the 66th FIFA Congress in Mexico City.
Preaching a universal message of love, brotherhood, and social justice, in 2018, the Villalobos Brothers were a crucial part of the Fandango at the Wall project, where they joined forces with Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra in a live concert at the Tijuana-San Diego border wall.