Mariachi Campanas de América will perform two concerts with the San Antonio Symphony and Grammy Award winning Tejano artist Little Joe y La Familia on Friday and Saturday, April 18-19, at the Majestic Theater. These concerts are part of San Antonio’s three-week Fiesta celebrations that run from April 10-27.
In the mariachi world, it’s well known that Pepe Martínez — musical director of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán for nearly four decades — recently had to take a leave of absence from the group for health reasons. Since then, speculation has grown regarding who would take his place, and it wasn’t until last month that his successor was finally confirmed. In this interview, the first of two parts, Jonathan Clark talks with Carlos Martínez about how he was invited to join Mariachi Vargas, and his expectations as new musical director of the most celebrated mariachi in history.
JC: Carlos, tell us how you were invited to become musical director of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. Had you ever thought about the possibility of joining the group?
CM: Well, a couple of years ago, my cousin Pepe Martínez Jr. made the comment, “It would be great if someday you could play with us.”
Dentro del ambiente mariachero, es bien sabido que Pepe Martínez —director musical del Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán por casi cuatro décadas— se vio obligado, por motivos de salud, a tomarse un descanso desde el año pasado. Desde entonces, ha crecido la especulación sobre quién iba a ocupar su lugar. No fue sino hasta el mes pasado que fue confirmado su sucesor. En esta entrevista, la primera de dos partes, Jonathan Clark platica con Carlos Martínez sobre su invitación al Mariachi Vargas y sus expectativas como nuevo director musical del mariachi más célebre de la historia.
JC: Carlitos, platícanos cómo fue que entraste al Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán como director musical. ¿Habías pensado alguna vez en la posibilidad de integrarte al Vargas?
CM: Bueno, hace un par de años, en una plática, me dijo mi primo Pepillo (Pepe Martínez hijo): “Pues ojalá se diera la oportunidad de que tú estuvieras aquí”.
Mariachi Mariposas of McAllen, Texas prevailed over four other semi-finalists to win the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo mariachi competition on March 16, 2014. The all-female group, founded in 2012, competed in three separate rounds before being chosen as the first place winners. In their first and second rounds, the group presented Popurrí de Toros (sones), Popurrí José Alfredo Jiménez, Para Toda la Vida (bolero), Popurrí de Huapangos, La Charreada, and a lighthearted Popurrí de Selena. Their final round included two crowd favorites, Hermoso Cariño and De Qué Manera te Olvido.
Due to the limited time allowed during the competition, Mariachi Mariposas selected a wide variety material to highlight the talents of their best musicians and vocalists, two of whom – Ángela Salas and Larissa García – were the first and second place winners of the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza Vocal Competition, College and University Category, in 2013.
Paola Alanís with fellow students at 2013 Extravaganza Vocal Camp
Mark your calendar for the third annual Summer Mariachi Extravaganza Vocal Camp, with Steeven Sandoval Pineda and Edwin Origel Méndez. Camp hours are 9:00 am to 4:00 pm on June 23-27, 2014, at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center (GCAC) in San Antonio, Texas. A public recital featuring camp participants will take place at the CGAC Theater on Friday, June 28, at 7:00 pm.
The Mariachi Extravaganza Summer Vocal Camp consists of one full week of mariachi vocal instruction to help students strengthen vocal skills, develop technique, improve stage presence, and boost overall mariachi performance. Students will have the opportunity to sing in a group as well as develop individual style and technique in breakout sessions.
Continue reading ‘Vocal Camp Registration Opens’
Congratulations to Texas State University (TSU), which on April 25 and 26 will celebrate the 15th anniversary of its Feria del Mariachi, in San Marcos, Texas.
During the celebration, Mexican singer, actor, and musician Lorenzo Negrete will receive the La Voz de Oro award. Lorenzo — grandson of legendary singer and actor Jorge Negrete — will perform accompanied by Texas State University’s award-winning Mariachi Nueva Generación.
Continue reading ‘Texas State Celebrates 15th Annual Feria del Mariachi’
In this exclusive feature interview for mariachimusic.com, Jonathan Clark talks with San Antonio mariachi luminary Raúl Cuéllar, Jr. about how he worked his way up from humble youth groups to the greatest mariachis in the world.
JC: When and where were you born, Raúl?
RC: July 31, 1976. Born and raised in San Antonio.
JC: So how did you initially get involved with mariachi music?
RC: Actually, it was one of my older cousins who introduced me. His name is Óscar Garza. He still has a group in San Antonio named Mariachi Festival. But before he had his own group, he used to play with Mariachi Infantil Guadalupano at Our Lady of Guadalupe church. One day he and another cousin of mine, Miguel, were going to a rehearsal for the Mass. It was the summer of 1985, and I was 9 years old. I didn’t want to go at first, but they prodded me and said, “Bring your ball. If you get bored, you can play basketball outside in the court while we practice.” I started shooting baskets while they began practicing inside. They left the door open, and I could hear them rehearsing religious songs like “Señor, Ten Piedad,” “Gloria,” and “Aleluia.” It caught my attention.
When I first met José “Pepe” Martínez in 1977, he was the newest member of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. He soon became a good friend and mentor. One thing I’ve always admired about Pepe is the exceeding generosity with which he freely shares his knowledge with anyone who asks. Another is the legendary ease and authority with which he performs even the most daunting musical task. Mariachi educator Mark Fogelquist aptly dubbed him “the Mozart of mariachi music.”
Continue reading ‘Pepe Martínez dubbed “the Mozart of Mariachi”’
Conocí a José “Pepe” Martínez en 1977, a sólo dos años de haber entrado al Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. De inmediato se convirtió en un gran amigo y asesor musical. Un detalle que admiraba mucho de él era que compartía desinteresadamente sus conocimientos con todos los que lo solicitaban. También admiraba la facilidad legendaria con la que desarrollaba las hazañas musicales más difíciles. Acertadamente, el educador de mariachi Mark Fogelquist le bautizó como “el Mozart de la música de mariachi.”
The Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza attracted some outstanding performances last December. It was the best event ever, thanks to the amazing talent that participated in the original songwriting competition, and the group and vocal competitions. The showcases were simply exhilarating! It is amazing to see how significantly the talent has improved throughout the years, and it’s a special treat to see the winners performing on stage prior to Mariachi Vargas. And Vargas’ performance never disappoints. They were once again captivating, breathtaking, and flawless.