The rich history of mariachi music will unravel before the eyes of South Texas music lovers as Mexico's legendary Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán makes its first and historic Laredo concert appearance Saturday, April 26, at 7:30 p.m., at the Laredo Entertainment Center.
The concert will cap off the two-day Fiesta de Mariachi, an annual mariachi competition scheduled at Texas A&M International Universtiy April 25-26. The Fiesta de Mariachi, which includes mariachi workshops and a competition, is expected to draw 20 high schools and 10 middle schools from throughout Texas and the nation.
Mariachi Vargas' appearance and the Fiesta de Mariachi are the result of a partnership that includes as sponsors Sames Motor Company, the Ford Salute to Education, the Laredo Entertainment Center and TAMIU.
While Mariachi Vargas will provide a world-class performance and the best of traditional Mexican music for the public, the Fiesta de Mariachi will serve to introduce middle and high school students to a university community and identify future TAMIU students, said Dr. Rachel Cruz, assistant professor of music and director of TAMIU's award-winning Mariachi Internacional.
Ticket prices for the Mariachi Vargas concert are $10, $15 and $25 and can be obtained at the Laredo Entertainment Center's box office or through or by visiting www.ticketmaster.com. All proceeds from the concert will benefit student scholarships at TAMIU.
"The idea behind Fiesta de Mariachi is to expose high school and middle school students to a university community," Dr. Cruz said, "It is a good recruitment event and a good way for us to be able to know what's out there in regard to students with musical talent that are interested in coming to TAMIU."
The visit by Mariachi Vargas will complement the learning experience, she said.
"They are the mariachi that all of us aspire to be like. After the workshops and competition, students can actually have an opportunity to see what they are aiming for, as well as an opportunity to raise scholarship funds for the Department of Fine and Performing Arts," she said.
Hank Sames, president of Sames Auto Group, said Sames Motor Company and Ford Salute to Education is proud to sponsor the Mariachi Vargas concert in Laredo as well as the Fiesta de Mariachi.
"We are proud to sponsor the Mariachi Vargas concert in Laredo and to support the Fiesta de Mariachi at TAMIU. The concert will raise funds to further the educational activities of TAMIU while the Fiesta de Mariachi will provide a chance for students from throughout South Texas to know more about TAMIU and its offerings," he said, "My company is dedicated to education in Laredo. We have provided hundreds of scholarships though the 'Salute to Education' program, and our new initiative, 'Sames Scholars,' will bring hope and educational opportunity to many more young Laredoans. We hope the concert will be enjoyed by the community. The concert goers will enjoy a great show while knowing that their admission fee is supporting a great cause."
Roger Mueller, branch manager for Ford Motor Credit Company in Corpus Christi, said the company is excited to be part of the two events.
"Mariachi Vargas is the top mariachi group in Mexico. Ford and Ford Credit have hosted this event in other cities. Laredoans are in for a fabulous show with proceeds going to TAMIU and education," he said.
Craig Baltzer, general manager of the Laredo Entertainment Center, said the Center is proud to be part of the partnership presenting the Mariachi Vargas concert.
"We are excited to be Laredo's premiere establishment for entertainment and truly be a part of this great community through partnerships such as the one formed here with TAMIU. The Mariachi Vargas concert is a highlight performance for the Laredo Entertainment Center and we feel fortunate to be able to present this event as one benefiting scholarships for students. We encourage everyone to attend this concert which not only brings a world-class performance to our city, but a great opportunity to contribute to a great cause."
Dr. Gilberto Soto, associate professor of music and chair of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, said TAMIU is delighted to form partnerships with Ford and the Laredo Entertainment Center.
"Students are the real beneficiaries of these two events and we would like to thank Ford and the Laredo Entertainment Center for their support," Dr. Soto said, "Both events will truly be a salute to education and will greatly enhance the support TAMIU provides to students through scholarships. I encourage everyone to attend this concert by Mariachi Vargas and the Fiesta de Mariachi and take part in a living tradition that is mariachi music."
Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, venerated as the 'best mariachi of the world' by generations since 1897, was formed by four visionary musicians. While previously, folklore and songs in Mexico were passed down from generation to generation orally, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán changed the traditional way music was handed down when in 1928, Silvestre Vargas hired a trained musician as musical director.
Mariachi Vargas members are all classically trained and have played with luminaries such as Pedro Infante, Miguel Aceves Mejía, Lola Beltrán, and José Alfredo Jiménez. Members have taken mariachi music around the world, and have performed in North, South and Central America, as well as Europe and Asia. Mariachi Vargas has been the only mariachi group allowed to perform at the pyramids in Egypt.
They have entertained countless heads of state, kings, ambassadors and dignitaries and were the first mariachi to perform at the White House.
Taking what was once considered a form of music better fit for the cantina than the concert hall, Mariachi Vargas has elevated mariachi music to an art form that vividly illustrates the vigor, passion, grace and tradition of the Hispanic culture.
For further information on the Mariachi Vargas concert of the Fiesta de Mariachi, please contact Dr. Gilberto Soto at 326-2649, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit offices located in Pellegrino Hall, 215B or call the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at 326-2180. University office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.