Anyone who lives in Texas knows that we’re in mariachi competition season right now. Among a slough of these events going on throughout the state, one of the most exciting is the one hosted by the University of Texas Río Grande Valley (UTRGV) under the name FESTIBA (February 25 – March 3). Now in its 13th year, FESTIBA promotes literacy, culture and the arts while recognizing and honoring individuals and organizations who have significantly touched, enriched and impacted lives in the community. The highlight of this celebration is the Mariachi Festival spearheaded by Dr. Dahlia Guerra, UTRGV Assistant Vice-President for Public Art, codirector of the UTRGV Mariachi Program and director of FESTIBA. Dr. Guerra comments:
The Mariachi Festival is a highlight of FESTIBA, and we are truly excited to present our guest artists and clinicians for FESTIBA 2019 at the UTRGV Performing Arts Complex in Edinburg, Texas. We have a unique and amazing lineup of musicians joining us on March 1st and 2nd of this year. Our special guests include Maestro José Hernández, internationally recognized as an innovative force in mariachi music, will be teaching at the workshop. His mariachi femenino, Mariachi Reyna de Los Ángeles, will also be teaching and performing. UTRGV is very proud to highlight the first professional all-female mariachi in the United States, and Mariachi Reyna will be celebrating their 25th anniversary at FESTIBA 2019!
Mariachi Reyna de Los Ángeles headlines this year’s Grand Concert
Also participating in FESTIBA 2019 will be Octavio Moreno, Mexican operatic baritone and lead vocalist for both of the two beautiful mariachi operas that have won international acclaim. This year, the festival welcomes back Jonathan Clark, the mariachi historian who inspires us to respect and preserve our mariachi heritage. Other distinguished musicians featured are Jorge Iván Velasco, world-renowned folk harpist, Dr. Diana Seitz, renowned violinist and teacher, and distinguished mariachi musician and arranger Eddy López. New to FESTIBA this year is Juan Rivera, nephew of the legendary Antonio Maciel and former member of the ensemble Sones de México. Juan specializes in the huapango, also known as the son huasteco.
Héctor Bermea, Iván Velasco and Orlando DeLeón of Mariachi Aztlán take a bow last year at San Antonio’s 24th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza. (Photo by Javier Vela)
The FESTIBA 2019 Grand Concert, held Saturday, March 2nd at 7:30 p.m. at the UTRGV Performing Arts Complex, will feature the festival’s first-place vocal competition winners, the group winners at the Middle School level and the first-place winners of the 4A, 5A and 6A High School Varsity levels who compete for Grand Champion. The concert will also feature guest artists Mariachi Reyna de Los Ángeles, Octavio Moreno, Dr. Diana Seitz, Iván Velasco and Mariachi Aztlán. Mariachi Aztlán is directed by Francisco Loera of the UTRGV School of Music faculty. Tickets are available from the UTRGV Patron of the Arts website.
Octavio Moreno, Diana Seitz and Eddy López
The FESTIBA 2019 Mariachi Workshops will be held at the UTRGV campus from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Friday, March 1. The Vocal Competition will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 2. This year’s top vocal competition winner will receive a $500 scholarship on behalf of Cynthia Muñoz, Producer of the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza. The Middle School and High School Group Competitions will follow.
Clyde Guerra, Julián Fernández, Alán Sánchez and Jackelyn Barrera of UTRGV’s award-winning Mariachi Aztlán. (Photo by Javier Vela)
The modest enrollment fee of $45 includes workshop, group competition and concert; $25 extra per student for competing in vocal competition. If the vocal contestant wishes to attend the workshops, the $45 registration fee applies. Public admission to the competition is $5 at the door (UTRGV students enter free with student ID). Concert admission for spectators is $20. More information is available at the FESTIBA website.
FESTIBA director Dahlia Guerra concludes: “We are very pleased to be sharing this unique and varied musical experience with our mariachi family and friends. The love of mariachi music—and especially of our cultural heritage—unites us all and empowers our young mariachi musicians to realize their goals and dreams.”
Dr. Dahlia Guerra