The Americas High School Mariachi Los Pioneros and Pebble Hills High School Mariachi Los Guerreros recently competed at the 2023 Texas UIL State Mariachi Festival and brought home top honors.
The Socorro ISD groups impressed judges with riveting performances, earning both a superior Division 1 rating for their centered, focused and seamless musical acts.
“We are extremely proud of Los Pioneros and Los Guerreros on their Division 1 rating,” said Armando Martinez, the district’s fine arts director. “We are blessed to have exceptional teachers and students in our district, and their hard work has paid off. We hope to continue this high level of excellence and are excited for the future of mariachi education in our district.”
Los Guerreros, led by co-directors Daniel Reyes and Eduardo Garcia, performed “Pajarillo de la Sierra” and “El Mercader.” Pebble Hills had performed at state as an experimental group before but entered this year as a traditional ensemble.
“Being around schools and programs that consistently perform at the festival was beyond exciting and earning first division was a feeling we can’t even describe,” Reyes said. “Mr. Garcia and I are extremely proud of our students. They faced many challenges, but they worked hard and pulled through.”
Los Guerreros went from seven students and no teacher at the beginning of the year to an energetic 14-member group of trumpets, violins, flutes, guitars, guitarrons and vihuelas. Reyes and Garcia said the commitment to mariachi music and pride in their heritage got them there.
“I love playing mariachi because it connects us with our culture,” said senior Analia Fierro, who plays the violin. “It’s very expressive, and there’s a lot of freedom in it, too.”
Fierro and fellow mariachi members Paloma Arellano and Ninel Mendoza performed as a trio in one of the songs. Their synchronized voices, sounds and timing earned their school an Outstanding Performance Medal.
“This was a new experience for many of us,” Fierro said. “Other regions in Texas have a lot more resources. Knowing we are up there, as in how well we play and perform, makes me very proud.”
Jose Luis Rios, mariachi director of Los Pioneros, is proud to see his students showcase their talents.
“Mariachi is starting to shine across the state and El Paso,” Rios said. “It’s great that our schools are finally gaining recognition all because of the level of the students that we have.”
Los Pioneros, a 22-member ensemble, mesmerized the panel with a unique take on the famous “Cielito Lindo” song from Los Tres Garcia. They also performed “La Calandria” with great tone, technique, musicianship and stage presence.
“It’s been exciting to hear how much our students developed from when we first started to now,” said co-director Rocio Manriquez. “They were already extremely talented, but after each rehearsal, they’ve gotten better and better.”
Americas had gone to state five times. This was the first time it has earned a superior rating.
Los Pioneros will lose 11 members at the end of the school year. But, as seniors prepare to raise their sombreros and exit the stage a final time, first- and second-year students will be ready to step in and continue the tradition of excellence.
“This is my first year playing violin, and it’s been a great experience,” said Rhiannon Romero, a sophomore. “I look forward to improving my skill in the coming years, maybe start singing, and becoming a good section leader so I can help others.”
SISD was the only district in the city to have all participating high schools advance to state and the most from any single district in the area.
To learn about their Mariachi and Fine Arts programs, visit sisd.net/FineArts.
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