A&M International Mariachi Group Tops at SA's Ford Mariachi Extravaganza

They've hit the high notes, offered gritos that stir the soul and have made Laredo proud.

The Texas A&M International University Mariachi Internacional tied for first place in the University Category of competition at the Ford Lincoln Mercury Mariachi Extravaganza held this past weekend in San Antonio. They share first place honors with the University of Texas-Pan American's UTPA Mariachi.

A&M International also earned a second place award in the female vocalist category with Diana Degollado receiving the judges' accolades. As the first place winner was male, Degollado becomes the best university female mariachi vocalist in Texas.

The group offered its thanks to supporters and fans in song with a special concert for members of the University community Tuesday at noon on the Killam Library plaza.

This is only the second year that the University's group enters the competition and director Dr. Rachel Y. Cruz said she is proud of her group.

"They displayed initiative, courage and sportsmanship throughout the event. They competed against long-established groups. The Pan Am group has been in existence for over 12 years while the UT-Austin group is the oldest mariachi group at over 25 years. This is only our second competition and we've only been working together for 14 months. We added six new members just this semester, including 5 concurrently enrolled high school students.

"Last year, the Mariachi Internacional placed second in the competition and our members' vowed they'd win first this year...they did. We got what we went for. I think we've proven that our students have the right stuff and the judges were clearly impressed," Dr. Cruz said.

Because of its placement at the competition, the18-member Mariachi Internacional had the priviledge of playing with the venerated Mariachi Vargas in a special Saturday evening concert. The concert culminated a weekend of special workshops and master classes in addition to the formal competition.

"It was a tremendous experience and one that neither the students nor I will forget. They are working to promote and give integrity to the art of mariachi. Their first place win acknowledges that they are accomplishing their mission," Cruz explained.

The annual event was held at San Antonio's Municipal Auditorium. Over 3000 attended, including many Laredoans who traveled to the Alamo City to cheer the Mariachi Internacional on. An unexpected deluge of rain did not dampen spirits.

The next performance of the A&M International Mariachi Internacional will be alongside the University's Ballet Folklorico at the Sunday, Dec. 2 presentation of "Las Posadas" from 6-8 p.m. at the University's Kinesiology-Convocation Building.

The Posada, now in its fifth year of presentation, is the largest of its kind in the city and presents an exacting re-creation of a Mexican posada complete with traditional dance, music, and food of Mexico. Also joining this year's performers are the Ballet Folklórico Juvenil and the University Band.

For more information, contact Dr. Cruz at 326.2640 or email rcruz@tamiu.edu

University office hours are from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Offices will close and classes be suspended for the Thanksgiving holiday Thursday and Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu