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Mariachi Mixteco leaving for festival in Guadalajara

July 25, 2001|By MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writer

A local mariachi group is preparing to participate in one of the most prestigious mariachi festivals in the heart of mariachi music, the eighth annual Encuentro International Del Mariachi y La Charreria in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.

Mariachi Mixteco has been invited for the second time to participate in Guadalajara's Mariachi Festival, which will include famous mariachis including Mariachi Vargas, Mariachi America, Mariachi Los Camperos and more.

The local mariachi group, made up of 15- to 19-year-old Imperial Valley youths, could not attend last year because of lack of funds. This year, Mariachi Mixteco coordinator Sonia Martinez said the group is ready to go.

The two and a half year old group started as a seven-member mariachi unit that only played in the Our Lady Guadalupe Church in El Centro but has grown to 12 members.

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Martinez said she learned of the festival in Guadalajara through the Internet.

She sent the festival an e-mail and festival organizers responded with an invitation.

Mariachi Mixteco could not attend in 2000 because it was too late to start gathering funds.

This year, Martinez said, the group and its supporters started early in gathering funds through playing at quinceañeras, parties, festivals, events and through donations.

She said the tickets for the trip are in hand but the group is still seeking funds to purchase new uniforms in Guadalajara.

"That's where they make them. It wouldn't be right to come home without a new uniform," she said.

Mariachi Mixteco played for Bishop Gilbert E. Chaves in June 1999 for his 25-year anniversary in the priesthood and has participated in several competitions. The group took first place at La Primera Batalla de Mariachis at Viejas Casino in Alpine in April.

The Mariachi Festival in Guadalajara will include workshops conducted by members of Mariachi Vargas.

"I hope the group acquires an experience they will never forget," said Martinez.

The festival will be from Aug. 31 to Sept. 9.

Guillermo Acuña, 17, of El Centro, one of the original members of the group, plays the harp.

"I want a chance to experience how life is over there," he said.

"I'm excited to go because around here there aren't many harp teachers and I want to meet people who can teach me to play the style of music that I like," he said.

Crystal Cañez, 15, of Imperial, another of the original Mariachi Mixteco members, said about mariachi music, "It's passionate. It's a part of my culture and it defines who I am. It's a great way to express myself through the music and the trumpet."

She said she is quite intimidated to be going to Guadalajara and hopes to become a better musician as a result of the trip.

She said she wants to have a future in a mariachi group or form her own group.

Marco Rodriguez, 15, of Imperial heard of Mariachi Mixteco from Cañez. He's been with the group for a little less than a year.

He said, "Before I didn't know the difference between mariachi and banda."

He said he is excited to go to Guadalajara and learn the different styles of mariachi music.

Priscilla Escalante, 17, of Calexico is another of the original Mariachi Mixteco members.

She said of mariachi music, "You have to keep practicing because there's always more to learn."

She said she's nervous to meet some of the more experienced mariachi groups in Guadalajara.

"No one from the Imperial Valley has ever been invited to go play," she said.

Mario Eguia, 15, of Holtville has been with the group for about one year. He first heard Mariachi Mixteco at last year's Carrot Festival in Holtville.

"I'm not afraid to go because I want to talk to them (musicians) and learn more about the music and Mexico," said Eguia of the festival.

"For me it's an honor to go to play with the biggest mariachis in Guadalajara," he added.

He said he wants to be a music teacher in a high school and have his own popular mariachi group.

Alia Milan, 17, of El Centro is another of the original group members.

She said she likes mariachi music because of the different types of mariachi styles.

She said of the trip to Guadalajara, "It's a great honor to go over there and meet Mariachi Vargas."

"I'm so nervous and excited," she added.

She hopes to learn to become a better violinist and have an everlasting experience.

Other members of the group are: Sonya Martinez, 15, of El Centro; Celestine Rendon, 16, of Calexico; Cristina Alvarez, 18, of El Centro; Richard Ochoa, 19, of Calexico; Javier Kadry, 16, of Calexico; and Tracy De La Vega, 18, of El Centro.

Clara Rendon also helps in coordinating the group's performances with the help of parents.

To contact Mariachi Mixteco call Martinez at 353-6825 or Rendon at 357-4602.

Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3435.

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