Mexican Police Band Performs Concert to Entire U.S. on Radio

Photo of the broadcast control desk at WJAZ in 1922, consisting of 15 dials, five gauges and other equipment
The WJAZ broadcast control room in 1922

The Zenith-Edgewater Beach Hotel broadcasting station in Chicago on the evening of Sunday September 30 gave to its listening audience throughout the United States a rare treat which was fully appreciated, as evidenced by the thousands of letters pouring into the station. The official Mexican police band of 87 pieces, sent to this country by President Álvaro Obregón, appeared in full uniform and rendered a concert of continuous playing, lasting over one and a half hours. Many of this band stood during the entire time, and there was no intermission.

When the director of the band was asked if they did not desire an intermission, his reply was, "Oh, an hour and a half of straight playing is nothing. In Mexico we often play steadily for three hours.

This band came to the United States on the heels of the recent recognition of Mexico as a friendly handclasp from President Obregón. To put it in the words of the Mexican consul, "We can express our appreciation most appropriately through music." The Mexican consul stated this was the first appearance of this band at any radio broadcasting station.

The band was organized 20 years ago by Velino M. Preza, who still is conductor and has seen it grow not only in the affections of the Mexican people, but in the esteem of foreigners, and especially of the highest musical critics.

In 1909, when President Porfirio Diáz met President William Howard Taft in conference on the Mexican border, this band furnished the musical setting, and President Taft personally expressed his appreciation and extended his felicitations to the conductor.

It is a symphony band, and every member is a Mexican and a musical expert. The requirements for admission are extremely rigid. The youngest member is 22 and the oldest 65. There are no string instruments in the band other than two bass viols. There are 22 clarinets, 10 cornets, six saxophones, etc. An extremely difficult combination to put over the radio, and preparations were in progress five days to properly stage and reproduce this band from station WJAZ.

The name of this band is somewhat of a misnomer and would indicate a relation with the police force, but in reality all members are accomplished civilian musicians.

This mark of friendliness on the part of President Obregón in sending to the United States this wonderful band has cost the Mexican government approximately $100,000.

On Sunday evening, directly in front of the band in the Marine dining room of the Edgewater Beach Hotel, were seated as guests of the hotel at dinner the Mexican consul in the seat of honor and the consuls representing the following countries: Great Britain, Argentine, Columbia, Cuba, Czecho Slovakia, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Uruguay. The consuls' table was decorated with the flags of the various nations there represented.

From Radio Guide, November 1923

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