UTPA Report: Nationally acclaimed Mariachi Aztlán

Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 10:06am

They’ve rubbed elbows with President Barack Obama, and picked up one national title after another. Now members of the famed UT-Pan American mariachi will join some of the biggest names across the globe in the nation’s capitol for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s annual gala.  As Roxanne Lerma tells us, practice makes perfect for the award-winning musicians.

UTPA students got an unexpected musical surprise during the lunch hour. Selene Aleman, UTPA sophomore, “I thought it was fantastic it was really nice to have them come out after diez y sies de Septiembre and I really did enjoy their performance.”

The nationally acclaimed Mariachi Aztlán played for a packed crowd at the Student Union as a warm up to their performance in Washington D.C.

Dr. Dahlia Guerra, Founded UTPA Mariachi, “This is an event that features movie stars and Latino Hispanic politicians and anybody who’s who in the Latino world so we are very excited to be a part of the event and to be a featured performer.”

The sweet sound of success comes with heavy demands. Dr. Dahlia Guerra, “The secret is easy. It’s hard work number one. And number two it is hard work.”

Eddie Lopez handles the music arrangements for the mariachi group…putting in countless hours all while juggling a full graduate school workload, “It’s an incredible experience we get to travel a lot. It’s a lot of work people sometimes don’t realize how much work it is all the traveling we do and the playing. We have to keep up with our homework but it’s incredible. There’s nothing like it.”

The prestige of being a part of the legendary group was enough to convince Monica Fogelquist to leave California and join the mariachi that’s been a part of so many historical performances. Earlier this year they hit a high note when they joined the Lyric Opera of Chicago for an encore performance of the world’s first mariachi opera.

Monica Fogelquist, Member of UTPA Mariachi, “The group has had a lot of unique opportunities and to get to be a part of something like that is really exciting for me.”

This year, Fogelquist is the lone female in the group, “That’s a little bit different for me but it’s also a pleasant experience. I really like everyone who is in the group.”

The university’s young musicians have also showcased the beauty of Hispanic music to a packed crowd at the Smithsonian Institute’s Folklife Festival, and in January during President’s Obama’s inauguration. 25 years ago when she founded the program, Dr. Dahlia Guerra never dreamed her mariachis would be making history,  “It was an amazing trajectory that started with black pants and white shirts and 5 kids.”

Dr. Dahlia Guerra, “I think we have put the Hispanic music on the map in a way that has not been done before. Never has a mariachi performed with an opera company, especially a university mariachi. And I’m not sure that one has ever had a private audience with the president of the United States.”

Sebastian de la Cruz, the 11-year-old “Golden Cowboy” will accompany UTPA’s mariachi when they perform October 2nd at the C-H-C-I’s 36th annual awards gala. President Obama and the First Lady will be in attendance.

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