Cipriano Vigil is a 2019 New Mexico Music Commission Platinum Music Awards honoree. He was born and raised in the small village of Chamisal, New Mexico. He received his baccalaureate degree in Music Education from Highlands University. Upon completion of his undergraduate work, he received a scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in Bilingual Education, also from Highlands University. Another scholarship followed from the Mexican government. In Mexico, he studied at the National Institute of Fine Arts where he obtained a second master’s degree in Ethnomusicology. While studying in Mexico, he would go to every and any place where music was played, including dance halls and bars. From these excursions, he absorbed the knowledge of many different styles of music.
He began his career as a professor at Northern New Mexico College in 1980, and retired from that institution in 2004. It was during this time that he also completed his doctorate in Ethnomusicology, which he received in 1988. This same year he became the Chairperson of the Fine Arts Department, a position he held for ten years. Because of his love for music and teaching, he continues to work at NNMC as a part time instructor in folk music.
His early background and training in music instilled his with a passion for preserving and disseminating the folk music of northern New Mexico. From his several presentations at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D. C., to elementary school classrooms of New Mexico, and cowboy poetry gatherings in Elko, Nevada, he has presented thousands of performances and workshops. He has brought traditional music to various regions throughout the U.S. and has performed in several states in the country of Mexico. These presentations consist not only of traditional New Mexican folk music but also La Nueva Canción (the new songs), a style that originated in South America.
Cipriano produced a four volume set of traditional New Mexican folk music, with accompanying CDs that he uses with his students at NNMC. Another self published work is a collection of his own compositions written in the traditional style as well as the style of La Nueva Canción. He self published a manuscript of sixty-seven of his compositions for violin and guitar, which he uses with my folk ensemble class. He has written several compositions for theatrical performances and for films. Recently, he composed and recorded several one movement symphonic works named Poemas Musicales (musical poems). UNM Press is currently publishing a book he wrote of the folklore of New Mexico, which will be accompanied by twenty-one long playing CDs.
In his many presentations at local schools, he brings part of his collection of over three hundred musical instruments from around the world. He plays them and gives the students a little history of each instrument.
Hi presentations and performances have won several prestigious awards. These include being honored as a Living Treasure, the Governor’s Arts Award, and the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities Award. I has been nominated three times for the National Heritage Award for outstanding work in maintaining and preserving traditional folk music.
Cipriano’s son, Cipriano Pablo Vigil, and his daughter, Felicita Vigil Piñón, have performed with him in concerts for over 25 years. Recently, his granddaughter Marisol Vigil, his grandson Mitzael Piñón, and his youngest grandson Alonzo Vigil have been performing with them on stage.