A Full Recap of the 26th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza
For the past 25 years, mariachi musicians from all over the country have traveled to the city of San Antonio, Texas take part in our Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza. Every year we look forward to seeing thousands of mariachi students, parents, and directors fill the halls and rooms of the Lila Cockrell Theatre, where the National Group and Vocal competitions are held. Hosting the Extravaganza in San Antonio during this COVID-19 pandemic was no longer a possibility, but our goal of bringing mariachi music and its culture to the people who love it so much was something we were not willing to give up. On December 1st, 2020, The 26th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza migrated from downtown San Antonio to the vast infinity of the world wide web.
The 26th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza consisted of a week-long series of virtual events hosted on Facebook, YouTube, and audio streaming services like Spotify. The virtual events included: Instrumental video tutorials, audio podcasts, video interviews, live conversations streamed on Facebook, video performances, and more. This all started on Dec. 1st, 2020, and culminated on Dec. 5th with the premiere of the first Virtual National Vocal Competition we ever hosted.
Facebook LIVE Videos
We knew this year’s MVE26 was going to lack the ‘in person’ component of a normal event, so we had to figure out a way to interact with the audience that tuned in to watch. We came up with the idea to put together a series of panel discussions that took place over a Zoom video conference and streamed on Facebook LIVE. This allowed us to host members of the mariachi community so they could share their wisdom on specific topics that could be useful for our viewers. A total of five panel discussions were streamed and recorded, and these can be found on the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza Facebook page.
Panelists: Dr. Dahlia Guerra, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. John López, Texas State University. Mónica Fogelquist, University of Texas at Austin. Michael Acevedo, University of Texas at San Antonio.
Panelists: Jonathan Clark, mariachi historian. John Vela, mariachi educator. José Hernández, Mariachi Sol de México. Álvaro Paulino, NYC Mariachi Incorporated.
Panelists: Patricio Espinoza, journalist. Cynthia Muñoz, producer of the 26th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza. Alicia Covarrubias, mariachi director. Michael Acevedo, mariachi director.
Panelists: Cynthia Muñoz, producer of the 25th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza, Clyde Guerra, mariachi vocalist. Sebastien De La Cruz, mariachi vocalist. Sandra Guevara, mariachi vocalist.
Panelist: Jonathan Clark, mariachi historian. Rigoberto Alfaro, arranger and former Mariachi Vargas guitarist. Federico Torres, former Mariachi Vargas trumpet player.
Podcasts, Tutorials, and Video Interviews
Back in October, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán traveled to San Antonio to perform in their first live concert since the pandemic started. It was a drive-in style concert held at the parking lot of the Freeman Coliseum. While Vargas was in San Antonio, we recorded a series of instrument tutorials, audio podcasts, and video interviews made for the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza. In the span of three days, we were able to produce over 20 individual pieces of content. The video tutorials were shot and edited by Solarshot, a video production company based out of San Antonio. The audio podcasts were recorded and conducted all the way from California by mariachi historian Jonathan Clark, and the video interviews were filmed and edited by MPR associate Leon Camacho.
Mariachi Vargas Harp Tutorial, Part 1 (Spanish with English subtitles)
In this first part of the Víctor Álvarez harp tutorial series, Víctor gives a demonstration of “El Cascabel”, discusses the different parts of the “arpa jarocha” and shows viewers the basic positioning of the hands on the strings of the harp.
Víctor Álvarez Video Interview (español)
Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán harpist Víctor Álvarez talks about his life, musical journey, and how he came to be a part of the best mariachi in the world.
Víctor Álvarez Podcast Interview (español)
Víctor Álvarez es originario de Xalapa, una ciudad conocida como la “Atenas veracruzana” por su importancia como centro de arte, cultura y educación. No sorprende que su educación musical es extensa y que cuenta con una licenciatura en música y una maestría en tecnología musical. En esta plática con Jonathan Clark, Víctor nos relata sus antecedentes como pianista de música clásica, explica cómo adquirió sus profundas raíces en el arpa folklórica y platica cómo llegó a ser miembro fundador del ensamble de mariachi de la Universidad Veracruzana antes de que le invitaran al Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán.
Mariachi Vargas Harp Tutorial, Part 2 (Spanish with English subtitles)
Kicking off with El Siquisirí, in part two of his harp tutorial, Víctor Álvarez teaches students how to play in octaves individually with the right and left hands, and leads up to using both hands to play together at the same time while gradually increasing tempo.
Arturo Vargas Podcast Interview (español)
Arturo Vargas, cantante y guitarrista del Mariachi Vargas desde 2002, conversa con Jonathan Clark acerca de sus orígenes como niño prodigio en la Plaza Garibaldi y recuenta su fascinante carrera, en el que siempre ha balanceado sus actividades como músico de mariachi con las de cantante solista. Aparte de su trayectoria con el Mariachi Vargas, recuerda sus triunfos como ganador de numerosos festivales de la canción, sus más de 300 presentaciones televisivas y sus cuatro discos compactos como solista. Además imparte consejos útiles sobre la selección y la interpretación de las canciones.
Mariachi Vargas Harp Tutorial, Part 3 (Spanish with English subtitles)
After a brief rendition of the son jarocho “El Huateque”, Víctor Álvarez teaches how to play chord inversions, and teaches the correct finger positions for inversions in both the right and left hands.
Robert López Video Interview (in English)
Robert López is the first Mexican American to join Mariachi Vargas in its 123-year history. The California native made his mark on the mariachi world as a vocalist and violinist during his 10-year career with Mariachi Sol de México de José Hernández. Prior to joining Mariachi Vargas in 2018, Robert recorded on several albums with Mariachi Sol de México and Mariachi Los Camperos, and even had an opportunity to jam out with Lady Gaga!
Agustín Sandoval Podcast Interview (español)
El trompetista tapatío Agustín Sandoval charla con Jonathan Clark sobre su repentino ascenso desde un mariachi familiar al Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlán y después al Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, dentro de un período sorprendentemente corto. También platica sobre su educación musical formal y la gran variedad de estilos y agrupaciones en los que llegó a participar antes de recibir su licenciatura en música por la Universidad de Guadalajara.
Mariachi Vargas Harp Tutorial, Part 4 (Spanish with English subtitles)
Victor Alvarez concludes his harp series with a brief introduction of “El Jarabe Loco”. Viewers will take the harp basics learned in parts 1, 2 and 3 of this series and use them as the fundamentals for learning to play a simple version of “El Jarabe Loco”.
Agustín Sandoval Video Interview (español)
Known widely for his musical abilities, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán trumpet player Agustín Sandoval represents the next generation of mariachi musicians leaving their mark on the genre. From growing up in a mariachi family to obtaining his music degree, Agustin’s journey has brought him a new opportunity: Author. Listen in as he discusses his life journey and his new book Mariachi Trumpet Method.
Jonathan Palomar Podcast Interview (English)
Jonathan Palomar, grandson of Román Palomar of “El Mariachi Loco” fame, grew up in a Mexico City household that incessantly played records by Mariachi Vargas—the group his father, Rafael Palomar, worked with. In this interview with Jonathan Clark, Mariachi Vargas’ newest guitarist recalls his early musical training and his journey through multiple mariachi groups in Mexico and the U.S. before landing the role of guitarist and vocalist for Mariachi Vargas in 2019.
MVE 25 Video Performances
The Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza always culminates its week-long festival with a concert featuring none other than the world-renowned Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. Although this was not possible this year, we were able to premiere several never-seen-before video performances of Mariachi Vargas during the 25th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza. These videos were shot and edited by Solarshot.
Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán guitarist/vocalist Arturo Vargas performs his iconic rendition of “El Pastor” at the 25th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza in San Antonio, Texas. Known for his incredible falsetto skills, Arturo’s signature interpretation of “El Pastor” is widely considered to be one of the best in existence, and has amazed audiences throughout the world.
Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán performs “Popurrí Vicente Fernandez” at the 25th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza in San Antonio, Texas on December 7, 2019. Featuring multiple vocalists from the group, the popurrí kicks off with Andrés González singing “Lástima Que Seas Ajena” and continues with Ángel López (“Por Tu Maldito Amor”), Óscar Ortega (“La Ley del Monte”), Carlos Martinez (“De Qué Manera Te Olvido”), and finishes on a high note with Daniel Martínez singing “Volver, Volver”.
In “Popurrí Rancheras de Antaño”, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán takes their fans back to yesteryear as they perform song from the Golden Age of Mexican cinema. “Popurrí Rancheras de Antaño” includes performances from Ángel López (“Puñalada Trapera”), Jonathan Palomar (“Fallaste Corazón”) and Óscar Ortega (“Los Laureles”), and ends with a lively duet from Andrés González and Robert López (“Dos Palomas al Volar”).
Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán energized the Lila Cockrell Theatre during the 25th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza when they performed the upbeat “El Caporal,” featuring the group’s iconic violinist and vocalist, Daniel Martínez.
National Vocal Competition
The Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza is produced by Muñoz Public Relations (MPR), whose mission is to promote performance excellence, cultural preservation and higher education among Latino youth. Call 210-860-9633 or 210-225-3353 for more information.