Mariachi Internacional to Perform with Legendary Mariachi Vargas April 26

Texas A&M International University's Mariachi Internacional, the two-time winners of the Ford Lincoln Mercury's Mariachi Extravaganza held in San Antonio, will welcome the world's greatest mariachi to Laredo this Spring.

The Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, loved by generations of music enthusiasts since1897, will perform April 26 at 8 p.m. in a concert at the Laredo Entertainment Center. Mariachi Internacional will play alongside the legendary group of 12.

Mariachi Vargas, which has performed with luminaries such as Pedro Infante, Miguel Aceves Mejía, Lola Beltrán, and José Alfredo Jiménez, will visit Laredo as part of the Ford Salute to Education Fiesta de Mariachi 2003, to be held both at TAMIU and at the Laredo Entertainment Center, April 25-26.

Steven Sandoval, 31, one of the youngest members of Mariachi Vargas, said the ensemble is excited to visit the Gateway City and play with Mariachi Internacional.

"We feel very excited," he said, "Wherever we go, people treat us so well and we cannot wait to start the show."

Sandoval, who served as one of the judges at the Mariachi Extravaganza in San Antonio in November, said he admires young mariachi artists such as TAMIU's Mariachi Internacional.

"I'm in awe because in Mexico, you don't see the degree of support that schools here get to maintain a mariachi group," he said, "I think some schools in the United States even have a class in mariachi built into their curricula. I think it's very important to continue this tradition because it is a part of our roots. We have the responsibility to pass this on to new generations."

Dr. Gilberto Soto, associate professor of music and fine and performing arts chair at TAMIU, said the Mariachi Vargas presentation as well as the Fiesta de Mariachi is being made possible by a grant from Ford.

"We are delighted to present a celebration of talent in Laredo and TAMIU," he said. "We are grateful to Ford, which has provided us a grant of $25,000 to make this Fiesta de Mariachi a quality event."

Soto said that the Fiesta de Mariachi expects to attract mariachi groups from 10 middle schools and 20 high schools from throughout South Texas in a two-day competition at both TAMIU and the Laredo Entertainment Center.

On April 25, from 12 p.m. - 5 p.m., students will attend a mariachi workshop, followed by the middle school competition at 7 p.m. High School competitions will continue April 26, from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

The winning high school mariachi group, Mariachi Internacional, and the winner of the vocalist category at the Mariachi Extravaganza in San Antonio, will play alongside Mariachi Vargas during the April 25 concert.

Dr. Soto said that all proceeds from the concert will be used to support student scholarships at TAMIU.

"This concert will truly be a salute to education and will greatly enhance the support TAMIU provides to students through scholarships," Dr. Soto said, " I encourage everyone to attend this marvelous concert by Mariachi Vargas and take part in a living tradition that is mariachi music."

For further information on the Mariachi Vargas concert tickets or the Fiesta de Mariachi, please contact Dr. Gilberto Soto at 326-2649, e-mail or visit offices located in Pellegrino Hall 215B. University office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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