These days, The University of Texas at Austin mariachi ensemble, Mariachi Paredes, has temporarily traded in its embellished, traditional charro suits for a more relaxed look. Since April, its members have been sharing performances recorded and edited from their homes. Although their usual setting has changed, the high quality and vibrancy of their performances have not. With hundreds of likes and shares of the videos posted on the group’s Facebook page, Mariachi Paredes is creating a rich musical experience and spreading delight through times of uncertainty.
“Mariachi music is wonderfully spirited and has the power to reach people’s souls and make them happy, and we could all use a good dose of ‘happy’ these days,” said Monica Fogelquist, director of UT’s mariachi ensemble.
By playing popular mariachi songs from its repertoire, the ensemble’s goal is to immerse viewers in an emotive experience — regardless of where they are watching from. Viewers are quick to express their gratitude in the comments section because the music has a way of summoning heartwarming memories and pride for Mexican culture — bringing smiles and moving some to tears of joy.
“Music can have such a universal impact within and across cultures,” said Aidan Barriga, vocal performance and music composition junior. “We’re making a positive contribution to something much greater than us that has been here long before us and will continue long after we’re gone. I’m so immensely proud to be able to continue this tradition that is so important to my culture.”
The mariachi ensemble consists of 15 student musicians and is a course offered in the Butler School of Music. Fogelquist is proud of each of her students’ commitment to their craft and hopes that these online performances continue to bring awareness to their dedication and talent.
“It is important that the mariachi remains visible to the UT community and beyond because we are still in a phase where not everyone is aware that UT has a mariachi,” Fogelquist said. “As the director, I want as many people to recognize and appreciate the hard work that my students put in to be a part of an ensemble that is on par with the other high-quality musical ensembles at UT’s Butler School of Music.”
With the mariachi ensemble course shifting online this fall, the group is eager to experiment with learning and practicing new music remotely. For now, its members plan to continue performing mariachi fan favorites from home and sharing them through their Facebook page — adding some liveliness to viewers’ summer soundtracks.