In a stellar evening of whirlwind emotions, dazzling outfits and passionate performances, 43 mariachi vocalists from 22 cities and 32 schools from across the country belted it out on stage for a chance to open up for the World’s Best Mariachi: Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán.
A first, second and third place vocalist are chosen in four categories: Elementary School, Middle School, High School and College/University. However, only one vocalist reigns top dog in the fray.
For Mariachi Vargas members, the toughest part of the seven-day Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza isn’t performing onstage or teaching workshops. It’s selecting one Grand Champion Vocalist during the National Vocal Competitions, where the competition is so fierce, even the smallest hairline detail could determine whether a singer will place or not.
“It [the competitions] vary year by year,” Mariachi Vargas Violinist, and Vocalist Andres Gonzales explained. He served as a judge this year. “It took us a lot of time to really decide, because it is that tough. We really have to sift through those minute details. The high school students were really prepared this time around.”
The 24th Annual Mariachi Vargas National Vocal competition was particularly tense in the High School category, as many of the Middle School participants have competed against each other for many years, and have grown up.
Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza has been around for two decades, and many of the students that once competed and participated in workshops are now directing their own mariachi students and serve as instructors at workshops. Vocal competitors become familiar with the others, and form friendly rivalries with each other, often making the competitions more acrimonious.
This year, Nathania Flores of Edcouch -Elsa High School dominated the arena with her powerful stage present and interpretation of “Mi Tierra Mexicana.”
Elementary School Category
- 1st- Laura Rivera, Macdonnel Elementary, Laredo, Texas.
- 2nd- Roberto Gonzalez, J. Marlan Walker International Elementary, Henderson, Nevada.
- 3rd- Ixchell Rios, Castle Hills Elementary, San Antonio, Texas.
Middle School Category
- 1st- Nayeli Peña- Grulla Middle School, Grulla, Texas.
- 2nd- Jelayna Barerra- Ramiro Barerra Middle School, Roma, Texas.
- 3rd- Mario Teran- K.O. Knudson Middle School, Las Vegas, Nevada.
High School Category
- 3rd- Alexandra Dorantes, Lehman High School, Kyle, Texas.
- 2nd- Anyssa Solis- Edcouch- Elsa High School, Edcouch, Texas.
- 1st- Eduardo Martinez- Los Fresnos High School, Los Fresnos, Texas.
- 3rd- Manuel Ayala, Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, California.
- 2nd- Angela Marroquin- University of Texas- Rio Grand Valley, Edinburg, Texas.
- 1st- Beatriz Figueroa- California State University-Sacramento, Sacramento California.
Grand Champion Vocalist
- Nathania Flores- Edcouch Elsa High School, Edcouch, Texas
Nathania will open up for Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlàn during their finale concert on Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. and will also represent the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza during the upcoming year through national and local performances, and radio and television interviews.
Although there is only one Grand Champion Vocalist, Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza competitions attract scouters from across Texas, seeking talent for numerous projects. This year, Paulina Magdaleno, Audience Development and Special Events of Fort Worth Opera was onsite looking for a male vocalist between the ages of 11-15 for a future mariachi and opera project.
Several previous winners from the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza have gone on to work with organizations such as the Houston Grand Opera, Fort Worth Opera and San Diego Opera. These individuals include Sebastian De La Cruz from San Antonio, Texas, Vanessa Alonzo from Houston, Texas and Yomara Cortez from Roma, Texas.
Gonzaba Medical Group is presenting sponsor of the 24th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza with supporting sponsors include H-E-B, Valero, Univision and MariachiMusic.com.