Michael Heralda has presented his culturally educational, musical, and interactive programs, to students and interested listeners of all ages throughout the U.S. since 1995.
Michael has recorded three CD's that feature music, stories, poetry, and narratives - see MUSIC link for more information.
The stories, ballads, and narratives presented in this program are all true and based on documented accounts of what is termed the oral tradition - stories handed down through families, generation after generation.
Many handmade indigenous styled instruments are used and shared throughout the presentations - clay flutes, Huehuetl and Teponaztli drums, gourd water drums, shakers, rasps, conch shell trumpets, and many other unique instruments
all made from readily available materials giving the listener the understanding that musical instruments can be made from natural elements that surround you.
"Aztec Stories" is an intriguing and thought provoking way to learn about the culture of ancient Mexico and the indigenous Mexika (me-shee-ka)/Aztecs. For some it may be a way to reconnect to a wonderfully rich legacy that unfortunately lies dormant within them, buried for many, many years and generations. For others it may awaken a new understanding of a culture focused on the beauty, art, and high levels of sophisticated philosophical understanding that for many decades were ignored or suppressed.
Please note: All programs include Michael Heralda and one (or more) additional supporting musician(s).
Solo presentations, lectures, and workshops, may be scheduled based on the venue, budget, and event.
All presentations are INTERACTIVE and are designed for the specific audience in attendance by age and interest level.
Michael composed music for Writer-Director-Producer Walter Dominguez's full length feature documentary film titled "Weaving The Past". Walter offered these words regarding meeting and working with Michael:
"I first heard about Michael Heralda from an amazingly gifted papel picado artist, Catalina Delgado Trunk, when I interviewed her in her art-filled home in Albuquerque, New Mexico in January of 2005. I was in production on my documentary feature film, Weaving the Past: Journey of Discovery. I mentioned to her that I needed to locate a composer/musician who would bring something unique and extraordinary to the music track of my film, specifically to weave in authentic Mexican indigenous music. As so much of the film takes place in Mexico and tackles issues of race, identity and the inhumane and horrific treatment of Mexican Indians during the long regime of Mexico’s dictator Porfirio Díaz in the latter 19th century and early 20th century, I felt that the ancient presence and enduring power of indigenous people and culture in North America needed to be felt by my audience subliminally throughout the film. What better way to do that than through their indigenous music! When I told her this, Catalina sat up and gasped with delight. She knew just the person for me to contact immediately: Michael Heralda.
As fate would have it, Michael lived in Los Angeles, my home base, and it turned out I had lived for a time only a short distance from his hilltop home in northeast LA. When I first entered Michael’s home that he shares with his graceful and welcoming spouse, Sandy, I soon knew that I had been led to the artist who would enhance spirituality and beauty in my film. Michael is tall, dark and imposing, his charismatic presence radiating a genuine kindness and warmth. Their home is full of an array of gorgeously crafted indigenous instruments, made by Michael himself from a variety of conch and other seashells, gourds, tree trunks, clay and other natural materials. They gleamed and beckoned to me in the golden sunlight that poured through the huge windows of the house that gave views of their cactus and succulent garden, and the mammoth skyline of LA’s downtown towers rising beyond in the distance. He picked the instruments up with an aura of reverence. The Mexica civilization is also known to us as the Aztecs. These Mexica or Aztec traditional instruments are considered sacred objects, he explained, and he demonstrated for me some of the rich and complex tones and notes he could elicit from them, as if by magic. I felt the beauty and sacredness of these sounds. As Michael went from one instrument to the next, naming them in the Nahuatl language of the Mexica, he spoke about his journeys into Mexico, to learn directly about these instruments from indigenous performers, instrument makers, and teachers, and about this musical tradition’s underlying spiritual philosophy, mythology and stories. I was riveted as he described how music and story-telling come together to teach us about the universal journey that our souls take as we move from birth, through this life and this natural world that is our mother, only to move on into the next dimension of existence. In essence, the story I was intent on telling in my film was the journey of souls - my grandfather’s soul, my soul, and the souls other’s. Listening to Michael talk so eloquently about the Mexica indigenous cosmology crystallized this intention further in my mind.
Then Michael took me into his intimate home recording studio and he began to play the astounding tracks from his CD, Tonalmachyotl. (Some of them eventually were woven into the music track of Weaving the Past.) As I listened raptly, I was taken into another dimension. The music is otherworldly, haunting and is the voice of a timeless world and a world-view very different from that from which European-based music arises. The sensations elicited in me were unlike anything I had ever experienced. I had no doubts left: Michael had to work with me on Weaving the Past’s music! His music would not only empower my film’s emotional core, but it would take it to a higher level of spirituality and meaning! Fortunately, he was open to my invitation to join my team. By mid-September, 2005, we had already recorded and videotaped Michael, as he improvised music to key scenes and sequences as he watched from the video monitor.
At our first recording session, one of the crucial things we needed to accomplish was to find the musical “themes” for important characters in this historical and family quest. Most important of all was my grandfather (“Tata”), who was half European and half Mexican Indian. He was the central focus of my journey as I went into the distant past and traveled in two countries to uncover the secrets of his mysterious early life. It was essential that he have a musical theme that would instantly convey the essence of his heritage, and his unshakeable faith and spirituality, combined with the simplicity, humbleness and loving heart that made him so beloved.
Michael channeled divine inspiration when he took one of his indigenous flutes and breathed life into it: in just one take “Tata’s Theme” came to life. It was perfect! I was in tears. I believed that music should be an ongoing part of the editing process for my film. So we continued to shape the musical tracks for Weaving the Past over several years, as my editors and I gradually and painstakingly edited the footage down into a compelling and inspirational story. At every step, Michael continued to bring his own deep spirituality and roots in Mexico’s indigenous philosophy, culture and religion to the extraordinary music he contributed to the film. Hearing these tracks unfold on the big screens and great sound systems of the Motion Picture Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood and during the film’s commercial theatrical run, was one of the great experiences of my life. It was thrilling! But knowing Michael and calling him my friend is an even greater satisfaction I shall always cherish."
- Walter Dominguez, Weaving the Past: Journey of Discovery www.weavingthepast.com