Ten colleges and universities will be present during the 29th Annual Mariachi Extravaganza making it the largest turnout from institutions of higher education in the history of the music festival.
Since the inception of the Mariachi Extravaganza, the event has served as a platform to promote higher education and cultural preservation among Hispanic youth. Since 1995, colleges and universities have participated in the Mariachi Group Competitions and Vocal Competitions which soon followed. The Mariachi Extravaganza has sustained its strong emphasis on higher education as colleges and universities with mariachi music programs impact the growth of mariachi music programs overall and contribute significantly towards preparing the next generation of mariachi music educators.
UTRGV’s Mariachi Aztlán has set a high standard of excellence among colleges and universities with mariachi music programs. Based in Edinburg, Texas, Aztlán has been around for 34 years. They have won first place at the Extravaganza every year they competed and now take on a different role during the event where they accompany vocal finalists and guest artists. UTRGV has churned out many mariachi educators who are now teaching mariachi music across the nation. Several of their graduates currently perform with some of the nation’s most esteemed mariachi groups like Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano and Mariachi Sol de Mexico. Mariachi Aztlán has many accolades which include performing with the Houston Grand Opera in “Cruzar la cara de la Luna” and touring consistently, for several years, with one of the most popular female mariachi singers in all of Latin America – Aida Cuevas, as well as other great mariachi artists.
The success of UTRGV’s mariachi music program can be attributed to the leadership of Dr. Dahlia Guerra, Assistant VP for UTRGV and founder of the Mariachi program and Francisco Loera, Mariachi Director. Dr. Guerra has been at the helm of the program since its beginning in 1989 and has helped shape the University’s School of Music which now has over 50 majors and minors. UTRGV offers a BME (Bachelor of Music Education) degree with a concentration in Mariachi. The program is nationally accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).
Locally, Trinity University and the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) started new mariachi music programs this year. Spearheading the program at UIW is John Lopez, a well known figure in mariachi music at the collegiate level. Lopez headed up Latin Music Programs at Texas State University for 26 years prior to joining UIW as the director of Mariachi Cardinal. The mariachi program has the support that it needs from administration to hit the ground running. They’ve started this semester with 21 students and will be competing in this year’s Extravaganza.
UTSA made a huge leap this year in transitioning Michael Acevedo from a part-time contractor to a full time Mariachi Director. This decision can be attributed to its new Dean of COLFA Dr. Glen Martinez and Dr. Tracy Cowden, Professor of Music. UTSA now has 3 mariachi groups on campus.
The College of Southern Nevada won first place in the College/University Mariachi Group Competition last year and will return to defend their title. UTSA won second and Texas A&M Kingsville won third.
Texas Christian University’s Mariachi Sangre Royal will compete in the Mariachi Extravaganza during their first time attending. “Our Dean of Music Sean Atkinson along with one of our lead music education teachers Laura Singletary will be attending along with the group,” says Imelda Martinez. She and her husband Ramon Niño direct the group. “Our Dean has been instrumental in starting the mariachi program. He has never experienced anything like this before so we’re excited he will be joining us at the Extravaganza,” she says. “This is the second year that mariachi music has been offered as a course and we now have 2 ensembles. It’s a very diverse group with both music and non-music majors,” she adds. “We’re looking forward to sharing with everyone how much mariachi music really means to the world and how beautiful, intense and challenging the music can be. I also want our members to experience the vertical alignment and to see how middle school students progress to high school and then on to college. These performances represent the very best of our culture and we’re excited to see these master icons and musicians and have the opportunity to learn from them. We’ll also have an exhibit area for students to learn more about the University.”
College/University Mariachi Groups attending this year’s Extravaganza include the following:
Mariachi Los Pastores
Angelo State University – San Angelo, Texas
Director: Rosendo Ramos
College of Southern Nevada – Las Vegas, Nevada
Director: Perry Chacon
Mariachi Los Vaqueros
Southwest Texas Junior College – Uvalde, Texas
Director: Alyssa Gomez
Mariachi Sangre Royal
Texas Christian University – Fort Worth, Texas
Directors: Imelda Martinez, Ramon Nino
Mariachi Oro y Negro de TLU
Texas Lutheran University – Seguin, Texas
Director: Yvonne Vasquez
University of the Incarnate Word – San Antonio, Texas
Director: John Lopez
University of North Texas – Denton, Texas
Mariachi Los Paisanos
University of Texas at San Antonio – San Antonio, Texas
Director: Michael Acevedo
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley – Edinburg, Texas
Director: Frank Loera, Dahlia Guerra
Mariachi Paredes de Tejastitlán
University of Texas in Austin
Director: Jose Torres
It’s exciting to see this level of participation. Several groups are competing, some groups are exhibiting and others are accompanying artists. Regardless of their involvement, their presence helps communicate an important message that higher education is important to our Latino community.
Colleges and Universities will compete in the National Competition starting on Friday, December 1 at approximately 8 PM at the Lila Cockrell Theatre. Wristbands are required to attend the competitions and can be purchased on the day of the competitions at the entrance to the Lila Cockrell Theatre.
Tickets to see competition winners perform along with the featured artist – Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlán – can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com. A complete schedule of events for the 29th Annual Mariachi Extravaganza is available at mariachimusic.com.