By Cristina Blackwell
La Prensa de San Antonio
SAN ANTONIO — Texas’ largest and longest running mariachi music event of its kind is preparing for its 2010 festival in San Antonio starting this week until December 5. The 16th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza is an eight-day mariachi music festival that brings together more than 15,000 mariachi aficionados and 1,000 of the greatest mariachi musicians and vocalists from the United States and Mexico.
“This is truly a community-wide event,” said Cynthia MuÃ±oz with MuÃ±oz Public Relations. “I used to say that Mariachi Vargas is made up of some of the best vocal musicians in Latin America, but now I say it is some of the best musicians and vocalists in the world.”
The Extravaganza includes a mariachi Mass at the historical San Jose Mission, mariachi group, and vocal competitions at the Municipal Auditorium and a mariachi-themed art exhibit. The highlight of the Mariachi Extravaganza is a concert featuring the world-renowned Mexico City based Mariachi Vargas de TecalitÃ¡n who celebrates 113 years of existence this year.
“San Antonio is the capital of mariachi music,” stated MuÃ±oz. “We have so many talented vocalists and musicians. People from other parts of the country now want our kids to share our talent with their students, so it makes our place very special.”
San Antonio’s 16th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza hosted an opening ceremony on Monday to mark the official kick-off of the largest gathering of mariachi musicians in the U.S. and longest running mariachi music event in Texas.
“Obviously San Antonio is proud of our talent right here in the city,” added District 1 City Councilwoman Mary Alice Cisneros. “The seventh largest city in the country and we have renowned talent amongst us. It is incredible talent that we showcase in San Antonio.”
The official line up of Mariachi Extravaganza events was announced, participants were introduced, and vocal finalists performed.
“I can’t stop smiling when I sing,” said mariachi vocal finalist, nine-year-old Brianna Rich. “It’s an amazing feeling.”
“I like that you can express your feelings though a song,” added her 11- year-old sister, Miranda Rich, who is also competing.
Their mother, Priscilla Rich, supports the girls no matter who wins saying: “We are all so proud of them, and happy they’re in the competition. We’re here to be together, whether we win or lose.”
Another little finalist with a big voice was eight-year-old Sebastian de la Cruz, a student at Paschall Elementary. “It’s a gift from Jesus,” he said. “He gave me this gift and I never want to let go of it.”
A mariachi-themed art exhibit and reception at the Centro Cultural AztlÃ¡n, a mariachi presentation at the Instituto Cultural de Mexico, and a mariachi music serenade on the River Walk are among the events scheduled along with the nation’s largest mariachi group and vocal competitions and a concert featuring the world renowned and Mexico City based Mariachi Vargas de TecalitlÃ¡n.
San Antonio’s 16th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza is part of the City of San Antonio’s Fall Art Festivals. For more information or to register for the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza, visit www. mariachimusic.com. For tickets for the Mariachi Vargas concert visit www.ticketmaster.com.
By Cristina Blackwell