The 27th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza (MVE27) has come and gone and we want to take a moment to reflect on what an extraordinary event it was this year and congratulate the winners.
After hosting a virtual National Vocal Competition in 2020, it was exciting to be back in-person with all conference attendees. Even though we had not seen each other in over a year, the highly talented and well-prepared mariachi groups and vocalists came ready to compete and GAVE IT THEIR ALL! This year’s Extravaganza featured the National Group Competition, National Vocal Competition, High School Group Finals, and a bigger and better Original Songwriting Competition.
On Friday, December 3rd, the MVE27 kicked off with workshops taught by members of Mariachi Vargas. An Original Songwriting Competition also took place on Friday morning. Six finalists showcased their original songs and competed in front of a special panel of judges that included Mariachi Vargas’ Musical Director Carlos Martinez, singer/songwriter and Latin Grammy nominee Lupita Infante and Carlos Alvarez, President of the Texas Chapter Board of the Recording Academy. The Songwriting Competition gave participants the opportunity to present their work in front of celebrity judges, enhance their visibility and have the opportunity to win prizes. Prizes included grants to support the continuation of their work and gifts made possible by KHS America. Finalists included Claudia García of Los Angeles, Abiel Hinojosa of Roma, José Longoria of Houston, Carlos Maldonado of Kyle, Víctor Pichardo of Chicago and Baldemar Villarreal of San Antonio.
After taking to the stage to perform their songs, the judges selected the top three winners of the competition. Congratulations to the following winners:
Recibe Hasta el Cielo
Claudia, Baldimar and Carlos received a Melodica from KHS America!
Backstage, one could feel the energy, hear the excitement and see the jitters as 2:30 pm rolled around. The best was yet to come. The student mariachi groups filled the Lila Cockrell Theatre ready to take the stage and compete in the National Group Competition. Thirty-five groups performed in front of the judges made up of members of the world-renowned Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. Groups competed in the Middle School, High School and College/University categories. Congratulations to the first, second and third place winners selected in the Middle School and College/University categories and the top six high school groups selected to compete in the High School Finals.
Middle School Category
1st Place – Mariachi Escandon, Roma Middle School, Roma, TX
2nd Place – Mariachi Juvenil Santander, Ramiro Barrera Middle School, Roma, TX
3rd Place – Mariachi Toro, AJ Briesemeister Middle School, Seguin, TX
High School Finalists
Mariachi Santander JV, Roma High School, Roma, TX
Mariachi Cascabel, Rio Grande City High School, Rio Grande City, TX
Mariachi Nuevo Cascabel, Sharyland High School, Mission, TX
Mariachi Grulla de Plata, Grulla High School, Rio Grande City, TX
Mariachi Nuevo Santander, Roma High School, Roma, TX
Mariachi Internacional, Las Vegas Academy of the Arts, Las Vegas, NV
1st Place – Mariachi Plata, College of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas, NV
2nd Place – Mariachi Paredes, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
3rd Place – Mariachi Los Generales, San Antonio Mariachi Academy, San Antonio, TX
The excitement continued Saturday, December 4th as forty-one of the best young mariachi vocalists gathered in the morning to compete at the National Vocal Competition. Vocalists from Texas, Nevada, California, and Arizona took to the stage where they were judged by members of Mariachi Vargas and Latin Grammy nominee Lupita Infante. Each performer left their heart out on the stage and won over the audience with their outstanding performances.
Congratulations to the following MVE27 National Vocal Competition Winners:
Grand Champion Vocalist
Mellanie Olivares, La Joya High School, La Joya, TX
Elementary / Middle School Category
1st Place (tie) – Jiovanny Guajardo, Abeka Academy, Pasadena, TX
1st Place (tie) – Alan Aguilar, Patrick Henry Middle School, Houston, TX
2nd Place – Lucero Tamayo, Keller Middle School, Las Vegas, NV
3rd Place – Melanie Terrazas, Sam Rayburn Middle School, San Antonio, TX
High School Category
1st Place – Deborah Carrillo-Barquero, Del Sol Academy of the Performing Arts, Las Vegas, NV
2nd Place – Taytum Rangel, Seguin High School, Seguin, TX
3rd Place (tie) – Arleth Garcia, Grulla High School, Rio Grande City, TX
3rd Place (tie) – Carolina Rodriguez, Grulla High School, Rio Grande City, TX
College / University Category
1st Place – Natalie Carmona, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, TX
2nd Place – Jenika Montes, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, TX
3rd Place (tie) – Cecilia Garcia, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
3rd Place (tie) – José Mejia, College of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas, NV
And finally, following the vocal competitions on Saturday morning, was the much anticipated National High School Finals. It’s a fan favorite and the one competition that garners the largest audience. It’s the best of the best from high school mariachi music programs in the nation and a fierce competition. All of the finalists are winners!!! Congratulations to the top three winners:
National High School Group Competition Winners
1st Place – Mariachi Cascabel, Rio Grande City High School, Rio Grande City, TX
2nd Place – Mariachi Grulla de Plata, Grulla High School, Rio Grande City, TX
3rd Place – Mariachi Nuevo Santander, Roma High School, Roma, TX
Congratulations also to Josie Borges of Las Vegas Academy of the Arts for being selected as the best trumpet player of the High School Finals Group Competition. Mariachi Vargas trompetista Agustin Sandoval and Extravaganza sponsor KHS America recognized Josie’s talent as a leader and musician during her group’s performance. KHS America presented Josie with a professional level trumpet to continue her musical education. Thanks to KHS America for providing additional instruments as raffle prizes to Sebastian DeLeon, Belinda Garcia and Nathaniel Rivera.
As is tradition at the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza, the first-place winners of the National Group Competition, and the Grand Champion of the National Vocal Competition, opened the grand finale concert for Mariachi Vargas.
While we wrap up another successful event, we want to take a moment to recognize and thank all the mariachi directors and students who worked so diligently to prepare for this year’s Extravaganza. Your endless hours of practice and dedication do not go unnoticed, and we applaud each one of you. Thank you to all the families and friends of the competitors who attended in person and to those who watched the 27th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza competitions via Facebook.
All in all, $50,000 in scholarships, grants, prizes and travel opportunities were awarded during this year’s Extravaganza. Thanks to all of those who made it possible, especially to MVE title sponsor Cano Health. Thanks also to the support of additional sponsors H-E-B, KHS America, Whataburger and Texas Public Radio. Travel opportunities were made possible by the International Trumpet Guild for 1st place group competition winners, and the Grand Champion Vocal winner. Winners are invited to perform at the conference in San Antonio in May. Also, thanks to the Miguel Guevara Memorial Scholarship Fund for providing additional scholarships to the vocalists who tied in the vocal competition. Thank you for your commitment to supporting mariachi music education and quality Latino arts programming.
|SCHOLARSHIP AND GRANTS||FIRST NAME||LAST NAME||SCHOOL/CITY||AMOUNT|
|Grand Champion Vocalist||Mellanie||Olivares||La Joya High School||$5,000.00|
|1st Place – College/Univ. Category||Natalie||Carmona||UTRGV||$1,000.00|
|2nd Place – College/Univ. Category||Jenika||Montes||UTRGV||$750.00|
|3rd Place – College/Univ. Category||Cecilia||Garcia||UT-Austin||$500.00|
|3rd Place – College/Univ. Category TIE||José||Mejia||College of Southern NV||$500.00|
|1st Place – High School Category||Deborah||Carrillo-Barquero||Del Sol Academy||$1,000.00|
|2nd Place – High School Category||Taytum||Rangel||Seguin High School||$750.00|
|3rd Place – High School Category||Arleth||Garcia||Grulla High School||$500.00|
|3rd Place – High School Category TIE||Carolina||Rodriguez||Grulla High School||$500.00|
|1st Place – Middle School Category||Jiovanny||Guajardo||Abeka Academy||$300.00|
|1st Place – Middle School Category TIE||Alan||Aguilar||Patrick Henry MS||$300.00|
|2nd Place – Middle School Category||Lucero||Tamayo||Keller Middle School||$200.00|
|3rd Place – Elementary/Middle School Category||Melanie||Terrazas||Sam Rayburn MS||$100.00|
|1st Place – Original Songwriting Competition||José||Longoria||Houston||$1,000.00|
|2nd Place – Original Songwriting Competition||Abiel||Hinojosa||Roma||$750.00|
|3rd Place – Original Songwriting Competition||Víctor||Pichardo||Chicago||$500.00|
|Geraldine “BooBoo” Orta Charles Scholarship||Ashley||Trevino||UT-Austin||$500.00|
|KHS America Trumpet during trumpet workshop||Nathaniel||Rivera||McAllen Memorial HS||$4,550.00|
|KHS America Trumpet during the high school finals||Josie||Borges||Las Vegas Academy of the Arts||$4,300.00|
|KHS America Trumpet during the concert||Belinda||Garcia||New Braunfels||$2,000.00|
|KHS America Violin during the concert||Sebastian||DeLeon||Mission||$2,500.00|
|KHS America – Melodica||Claudia||García||Los Angeles||$100.00|
|KHS America – Melodica||Carlos||Maldonado||Kyle||$100.00|
|KHS America – Melodica||Baldemar||Villarreal||San Antonio||$100.00|
|INTERNATIONAL TRUMPET GUILD||TRAVEL|
|First place C/U||Mariachi||Plata||College of Southern NV||$7,000.00|
|First place HS||Mariachi||Cascabel||Rio Grande City HS||$7,000.00|
|First place MS||Mariachi||Escandon||Roma MS||$7,000.00|
|Grand Champion Vocalists||Melanie||Olivares||La Joya HS||$1,200.00|
|The value of prizes are estimates only. Neither the value for prizes or travel may be redeemed for cash.|
And finally, I’d like to thank my skeleton crew who worked mostly remotely in preparing for this year’s Extravaganza. Thanks to Sandra Guevara, Debra Torres, Leon Camacho and Grace Smelser, for your total commitment towards ensuring a successful event and your endless passion for music and culture. Thanks also to our fabulous volunteers for your contributions to another amazing event.
Happy Holidays to all and see y’all in 2022!