A&M International Mariachi Internacional Places Second at SA Mariachi Competition

The sounds of sweet victory are being celebrated by Texas A&M International University's Mariachi Internacional after being named Second Place Winners in the University Division of the Ford and Lincoln Mercury's Sixth Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza and competition held this past weekend in San Antonio.

The 20-member group directed by Dr. Rachel Y. Cruz, assistant professor of music, was making its first appearance at the Extravaganza, considered one of the nation's most important competitions celebrating traditional mariachi music.

Dr. Cruz, who has only been rehearsing with the group for the past two months, said her students' victory was both inspirational and memorable.

"Despite our relatively short time rehearsing together, we placed second to the University of Texas-Pan American, the showcase group that has been in existence for over 10 years, so it's quite a magical memory for us. Third place was a tie between a group comprised of top students from throughout the San Antonio Independent School District who are considered too good to compete against other high school units and Southwest Texas State University. We plan to return to the competition next year, inspired to win first place," she promised.

Cruz unabashedly calls her group the best mariachi group in Laredo and said she believes they are the University's musical ambassadors.

"We're building a terrific fine arts program here at the University and will soon break ground on our Center for the Fine and Performing Arts. Our students are proud of the tradition of mariachi music and proud to represent their hometown University and Laredo with the time-honored lyrics, heart-lifting melodies and excellent musicianship that the craft of mariachi music demands," she said.

And she noted the group has room to grow.

"Our youngest member is a 15-year-old concurrent enrollment high school student and our oldest is 20, so we have a lot of time with these students to continue to hone our performances. In addition, we're strengthening our scholarship program to help provide additional student support," she explained.

The group's winning entry was a popourri of tunes including "Asi Son Los Hombres," "Si Me Quieres Tanto," an original composition by Cruz, and "Que Padre Es La Vida." Members were featured in a photo published in Sunday's edition of the San Antonio Express-News.

Among universities the Mariachi Internacional competed against were the University of Texas-Austin, UT-San Antonio, UT Brownsville, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Palo Alto College and the University of Houston.

Cruz joined the Texas A&M International University faculty this Fall.

She earned her D.M.A. (doctorate in musical arts, applied voice) at the University of Texas at Austin. Her Master of Music, applied voice, was also earned at UT-Austin. Her Bachelor of Arts in Music was earned at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana.

She directs the Texas A&M International University Mariachi International, the University's Chorale and teaches applied voice and guitar.

For additional information on the Mariachi Internacional, contact Dr. Cruz at 326.2640, visit offices in Killam Library 415D or email to rcruz@tamiu.edu.

University office hours are Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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