One thousand young mariachi musicians and vocalists are gathering this week in San Antonio for the 23rd Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza presented by Gonzaba Medical Group. It’s the largest gathering of the greatest mariachi musicians in the world, with some astonishing performances that can’t be missed. Some of the highlights include a special treat at JazzTX at the Pearl, a holiday serenade on the River Walk, fierce mariachi group and vocal competitions at the Lila Cockrell Theatre and a grand finale event that features top notch performances.
The Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza officially kicked off with a mariachi Mass at the historic Mission San José at noon last Sunday. This Mass has been a tradition at the mission for over 40 years, with a full choir and at least a dozen mariachi musicians on any given Sunday.
“A Taste of the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza” takes place at 7 p.m. TONIGHT, Wednesday, Nov. 29 at JazzTX at The Pearl, and will feature the revered Houston-based, award-winning ranchera singer Vanessa Alonzo who has performed for audiences around the globe. Joining her on stage are the virtuosic Costa Rican pianist and Steinway artist Esteban Álvarez, and New York-based Broadway actress and singer Christina Maxwell. These two are living proof that mariachi music knows no borders and is a genre that appeals to a cross segment of multitalented artists. See what happens when the piano meets mariachi, and expect to hear traditional favorites like Bésame Mucho, Y Volveré and La Bikina, along with members of San Antonio’s very own, award-winning Mariachi Azteca de América. Tickets are available at JazzTX.com.
FREE to the public on Thursday, November 30th is a mariachi music serenade on the River Walk that is sure to get everyone into the holiday spirit. Expect to see mariachi groups from San Antonio, Las Vegas and the Rio Grande Valley performing on the bridge in the center of the lagoon at Rivercenter Mall, with a huge Christmas tree and thousands of Christmas lights as a backdrop. It’s a moment of bliss you won’t want to miss!
Among the most captivating performances of this seven-day mariachi music festival are the National Mariachi Group Competitions at the Lila Cockrell Theatre. “This is one of the biggest events of its kind anywhere,” says Carlos Martínez, musical director of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. “Nowhere else in the world can you find so many talented mariachi groups and solo singers in one event. The amount of work the students put into preparing for these competitions is very impressive.” Mariachi groups will begin competing at 4 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1, with middle school groups followed by the high school category. Expect to see some outstanding performances from The University of Texas at Austin, Rice University, San Antonio College and Texas State University who will compete in the college/university category.
Among the most important events held during the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza is the National Mariachi Vocal Competition at the Lila Cockrell Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 2. Forty-four vocal finalists will compete in front of a panel of judges made up of members of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. “These students represent the best of thousands of young mariachi artists from across the United States,” says Cynthia Muñoz, Producer of the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza. “This is a nail-biting event centered around a tough competition that is thrilling to watch,” she says.
The Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza culminates with a concert featuring mariachi group and vocal competition winners, and the world’s preeminent Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. For over half a century, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán “El Mejor Mariachi del Mundo,” has been considered the finest mariachi in the world, a title it continues to uphold. Founded in 1898 in the southern Jalisco village of Tecalitlán, the group is currently celebrating its 120th anniversary. No other mariachi in history has had a trajectory or influence remotely comparable to that of Vargas. Its current sixth generation represents the state of the art in mariachi music—world-class vocalists and instrumentalists, flawless ensemble work, impeccable taste in arrangements and repertoire, and spellbinding showmanship.
Wristbands to enter the National Mariachi Group and Vocal Competitions can be purchased online at mariachimusic.com. Tickets to see the grand finale concert with Mariachi Vargas at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2 can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com.
Additional sponsors of the 23rd Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza include Valero, La Prensa Newspaper, KEDA Radio and MariachiMusic.com.