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Mariachi program turns up the music, tunes up the metroplex

Mariachi program turns up the music, tunes up the metroplex

Mariachi Águilas de UNT filled Winspear Hall with flavorful music under the direction of José Torres at the concert held at Winspear Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

Mariachi program turns up the music, tunes up the metroplex
October 29
18:01 2015

Victoria Monteros | Staff Writer

@ToriLaSuper

Some people have seen them. Many are familiar with their famously energetic and vibrant sound. They bring an undeniably exciting and warm presence wherever they go.

Vocalist from Ft. Worth Yadira Salas performed with both Mariachi UNTitlán and Mariachi Águilas de UNT at the concert held at Winspear Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

Vocalist from Ft. Worth Yadira Salas performed with both Mariachi UNTitlán and Mariachi Águilas de UNT at the concert held at Winspear Hall. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

But most students are unaware that UNT has not one, but two mariachi groups. Established 12 years ago by director Donna Emmanuel, Mariachi Aguilas and UNTitlan aim to expose students around UNT to the beauty of Mariachi and Mexico.

Emmanuel said she is very passionate about mariachi music. Having performed in a mariachi group during her time at the University of Michigan, and having traveled around Mexico in cities such as Veracruz, Guadalajara and Monterrey, she fell deeply in love with the music.

“I think I was Latina in a previous life,” Emmanuel said with a laugh.

When she came to UNT, she assumed there would be a mariachi program. However, there was not one at the time, so she decided to create the program in 2003.

“It was one of the first things I took upon myself to do,” Emmanuel said.

Mariachi is a traditional style of music in Mexico, where it is widely cherished. In other places of the world, including the U.S., it has become a cultural novelty. All across the states, the upbeat style of music enchants not only people of the Mexican culture, but also a variety of others.

Mariachi music is traditionally learned entirely by ear and rehearsed and performed without any music. At UNT, the mariachi program aims to teach students mariachi in this traditional way. Emmanuel said it’s about getting to know the true meaning of the music, feeling it, conveying the emotion to the audience and keeping it centered in the culture and the tradition.

“[Playing by ear] is unique in a school setting. For mariachi in the working world, it’s standard performance practice,” director Jose Torres said. “So what we’re doing here is trying to set up a model where Mariachi is a little bit more within its performance practice in the real world. That way, students can get an understanding of it within its culture.”

Mariachi Águilas de UNT performers sang and played their heart out at the concert held at Winspear Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

Mariachi Águilas de UNT performers sang and played their heart out at the concert. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

So many people of the Mexican culture who participate in Mariachi feel they are paying homage to their roots and feel as if they are keeping in touch with the culture. Pre-business freshman and UNTitlan member Jorge Lozoya said he treasures his Mexican culture and wants to carry on the tradition as a Mexican-American. Having played mariachi since he was 7, Lozoya said he is very proud to be both Mexican and a Mariachi.

“Being a Mexican-American, I want to embrace as much Mexican culture as I can, since I am the only American born in my family,” Lozoya said. “So I feel like this is a very good way to connect to my roots.”

The mariachi program is active on campus and the Denton community. It hosts summer camps every year for middle and high school students, and it also features high school mariachi groups in their concerts. Participants play throughout the metroplex, even helping to start programs in public schools.

Their love for mariachi is evident in the work they do. On Tuesday, the program held its fall concert at Murchison Hall Performing Arts Center. Both mariachi groups enthusiastically graced the stage with their culturally rich, musical presence.

Every song was filled with passion. Each instrument added its own flavor to the mix. The singers performed to their heart’s content, expressing the messages found in the song lyrics, which were filled with happiness, sadness, love and the various journeys of life.

Featured Image: Mariachi Águilas de UNT filled Winspear Hall with flavorful music under the direction of José Torres at the concert held at Winspear Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

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