The last grito hit the souls of the cheering crowd with a characteristic ánimo and Texas A&M International University's Mariachi Internacional took its victory trophy on stage as it won first place, with no ties, in the university category of competition at the Ford Lincoln Mercury Mariachi Extravaganza Friday in San Antonio.
This marks the second year of competition conquest for Mariachi Internacional. Last year, the group shared first place honors with the University of Texas-Pan American's UTPA Mariachi.
As group members walked on stage to claim their prize, they were greeted by members of the oldest surviving mariachi group in the world, the Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán.
While calling her family members in Laredo on her cellular phone to share competition results, Mariachi Internacional member and vocalist Mónica Martínez, said she was elated to be a part of the winning team.
"This was the most wonderful experience and it couldn't have happened to a better deserving group," she said, "We put a lot of hard work into this and most importantly, it was the teamwork that made this happen."
A total of 12 mariachi groups from universities and colleges from throughout Texas, as well as New Mexico and California, participated in this year's competition.
Dr. Rachel Y. Cruz, Mariachi Internacional director, said she is proud of her students' accomplishments.
"If there is such as thing as a perfect performance, an ensemble peaking at a perfect time, Mariachi International accomplished that tonight," she said, "I couldn't be prouder."
Dr. Cruz added that her group has clearly won the popular vote.
"They are the best university level mariachi not only in the entire United States but also anywhere in the world," she said.
Dr. Gilberto Soto, associate professor of music and fine and performing arts chair, said the victory is indicative of the teamwork and support that exists within the TAMIU community.
"This is the result of the teamwork among faculty members, our ensembles, our entire University family including administrators and staff," Dr. Soto said, "They have always supported the Mariachi Internacional, which has made TAMIU, the City of Laredo, the County of Webb and South Texas to be recognized as the place having the best university level mariachi group."
Because of its placement at the competition, the Mariachi Internacional had the privilege of playing with the legendary 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.
José Hernández, also a member of Mariachi Internacional, said he enjoyed participating in the competition for the first time this year.
"This is my first year and I'm coming back next year," he said.
Elsa Ramos, another member, said she felt the group gave it best performance at the competition.
"All of the other groups did very well, but we especially put our hearts in it. This took a lot of time, effort and dedication. But what is most important is that we are all a family," she said.
For more information, please contact Dr. Cruz at 326-2640, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. University office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Offices will close for the Thanksgiving holiday Thursday and Friday.