Get ready for San Antonio’s 16th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza November 28- December 4. There’s something for everyone with more than a dozen events scheduled throughout the week. Here are some highlights of the many events taking place starting this Sunday.
Mariachi Mass on Sunday, November 28, 8 am: The Extravaganza begins with a mariachi mass at the historic San Fernando Cathedral. All mariachis are invited to attend and receive a “blessing of the mariachis.” Celeste Curiel, “Best Mariachi Vocalist in the US – 2009” will sing during the mass. Celeste is a vocal graduate student at Texas State University where she is studying opera and mariachi. She has just completed her first mariachi CD titled Por Amor with recordings of Los Laureles, Granada, Asi Son los Hombres, Por Amor, La Charreada and Que Buena Suerte.
Mariachi Original, Sunday, November 28, 3 pm: Los Inocentes is a traditional trio made up of 3 siblings who all play the guitar and sing. The group will perform sones like La Negra and Camino Real de Colima and jarabes like Jarabe Tapatio and El Jarabe de la Botella. The group has a beautiful sound reminiscent of the 40’s and 50’s during the golden epoch of Mexican cinema. If you’ve never seen this group, it’s something you don’t want to miss. The concert takes place at the historical Mission Concepcion at 3 pm at 807 Mission Road. A $5 donation is suggested.
Official Kick-off and Press Conference, Monday, November 29, 2 pm: San Antonio’s 16th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza officially kicks off with a press conference at the St. Anthony Hotel where participants, sponsors and mariachi musicians and vocalists will gather to officially start the annual music event and meet the folks who make it all happen. Attendees will have a chance to meet a few of this year’s vocal finalist including Ashley Creado, Bryanna Rich, Miranda Rich and Sebastian De La Cruz. The public is invited to attend.
Mariachi Art Exhibit and Reception, Tuesday, November 30, 6 pm: The Mariachi-themed Art Exhibit and Reception is hosted by the Centro Cultural Aztlan located at 1800 Fredericksburg Rd. Art work exhibited is by local and regional artists such as Kathy Sosa, Jeff Hull, Raul Servin, Jacinto Guevara, Pamela Wessel, Frank W. Harris and whole lot more. All art work is available for purchase. This event is free and open to the public and will include live performances from vocal finalists.
Noche de Cultura, Wednesday, December 1, 7 pm: This event is a presentation about the history and essence of mariachi music with two members of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, Jose “Pepe” Martinez Jr. and Enrique De Santiago. The event will be held at the Instituto Cultural de Mexico at 600 Hemisfair Park at 7 pm. This event is free and open to the public.
Mariachi Happy Hour, Thursday, December 2, 5 pm: Before you head to the Riverwalk Center Mall Lagoon stop by the Marriott TownePlace Suites at 409 E. Houston St. to meet the members of the Berklee School of Music Mariachi Multicultural de America joining us all the way from Boston!!! The group describes themselves as the most culturally diverse mariachi music ensemble with musicians from Russia, Mexico and the U.S. This is the first time Mariachi Multicultural attends the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza so come out and give them a warm Texas welcome. Most of the students are classically trained or have experience as jazz musicians and will be competing, and experiencing Mariachi Vargas, for the first time.
Senerata en el Rio, Thursday, December 2, 6 pm: Imagine mariachis performing on a stage that sits in the center of a lagoon on the Riverwalk. Hundreds of trees are decorated with colorful Christmas lights and a large Christmas tree serves as the backdrop. It’s the perfect setting for the Senerata en el Rio where hundreds of mariachis will gather to perform for locals and tourists. The free event is at the Rivercenter Mall Lagoon and will last throughout the evening (weather permitting) and will showcase some of the many student mariachi groups and vocalists participating in the mariachi workshops and competitions on Friday and Saturday. Esteban Velasquez, 2007 “Best Mariachi Vocalist in the US,” and Celeste Curiel, 2009 “Best Mariachi Vocalist in the US” will also perform.
Mariachi Student Workshops, Friday, December 3, 8 am: Close to 1000 mariachi students from throughout Texas, as well as from places as far as Oklahoma City, Tucson, and Boston, will participate in beginner, intermediate, and advance workshops taught by members of Mariachi Vargas, Mariachi 7 Leguas, and other San Antonio professional mariachis. Students will have the opportunity to learn Mariachi Vargas arrangements from the actual Mariachi Vargas members. Pre-registration or wristband required.
Mariachi Group Competition, Friday, December 3, 5 pm: What does Berklee School of Music in Boston, MA have in common with Fox Tech High School in San Antonio or Patrick Henry Middle School in Houston? They all have mariachi groups who will compete in the largest and most competitive mariachi group competitions in the U.S. Nearly 1,000 mariachi musicians will gather at the Municipal Auditorium to take part in the only mariachi competitions in the world judged by members of the Mexico City based Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. First place winners selected will open for Mariachi Vargas on Saturday, December 4 at the Municipal Auditorium. Wristbands required and can be purchased at the door.
Mariachi Vocal Competition, Saturday, December 4, 9 am: The mariachi vocal competition is billed as the largest and most competitive mariachi vocal competition in the U.S. attracting the most talented vocalists from elementary school age through college to compete in an American Idol version of mariachi music. Hundreds of CDs are submitted and screened with only 40 finalists selected to compete in front of a live audience. Judges are made up of members of the internationally acclaimed Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. Only one vocalist will be named “Best Mariachi Vocalist in the U.S.” and will open for Mariachi Vargas on Saturday, December 4 at the Municipal Auditorium. Wristbands allowing entry into the competitions may be purchased at the door for $8 or pre-sale for $5. Call 210-225-3353 for more information.
Mariachi Vargas Concert, Saturday, December 4, 7:30 pm: Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán is the ultimate mariachi, which is why it is no surprise that they are known as el Mejor Mariachi del Mundo, the best mariachi in the world. There is no other group who can mesmerize an audience like the 13-piece Mariachi Vargas who represents the true essence of Mexico. Their show is filled with a versitle repertoire of traditional and popular Mexican and international songs performed at a level of perfection beyond the imagination. Opening for Mariachi Vargas are Esteban Velasquez, 2007 “Best Mariachi Vocalist in the US.” Estaban has had international success by being a top 10 ten finalist on La Academia and being selected as a finalist on the nationally televised competition Quiero Ser Estrella on Telefutura. Accompanying Estaban will be Rio Grande Valley based Mariachi 7 Leguas, top winners of “Sones de Mariachi por el Mundo,” a global competition that pays tribute to the excellence of mariachi music worldwide. The competition was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the Instituto Mexicano del Exterio.
Tickets to see Mariachi Vargas in concert are available at ticketmaster.com or any Ticketmaster outlet.
Keep reading this blog for more on San Antonio’s 16th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza. Updates will be posted daily. And, most importantly, enjoy a fabulous Thanksgiving!