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The Battalion

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Aggieland Mariachi celebrates Mexican culture through music

The+members+of+Aggieland+Mariachi+performed+at+the+2020+Texas+Independence+Day+Fest+at+the+Washington-on-the-Brazos+State+Historical+Park.
via Aggieland Mariachi Facebook

The members of Aggieland Mariachi performed at the 2020 Texas Independence Day Fest at the Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historical Park.

Throughout the year, Aggieland Mariachi brings Mexican culture to Texas A&M’s campus through its traditional style of music performance.
Aggieland Mariachi was founded by a group of students in the fall of 2002. Since then, the mariachi has grown in size and popularity, performing at many high-profile events in the past few years, including the Houston Rodeo, the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, and the Texas Independence Day celebration at Washington-on-the-Brazos.
Even though the organization has existed for almost two decades, it only started gaining notoriety in 2012, the group’s senior academic advisor Roy Lopez said. 
That year, Lopez took the members of Aggieland Mariachi on a recruiting trip to the UIL Mariachi State Festival, a state competition for high school mariachi held in San Antonio. Then, Aggieland Mariachi could not afford to buy the outfits usually worn by mariachi players, called the traje de charro.
“We didn’t have any money at all,” Lopez said. “So, we wore a polo shirt that said Texas A&M, black pants and some shoes that we had.”
Despite not being dressed the part, the mariachi performed for the audience. Soon after the festival, Lopez received a check for $10,000 from an anonymous donor to buy traje de charro outfits. Aggieland Mariachi also received a combined donation of $70,000 from Renato Ramirez, president and CEO of the International Bank of Commerce in Zapata, and Chancellor John Sharp of the Texas A&M University System. 
Lopez said Aggieland Mariachi was finally recognized by the university and had enough money to buy the traje de charro outfits, as well as the instruments they needed because of how well they performed on that trip.
“I told [the members], it’s not how you look, it’s how you play, how you sound,” Lopez said. “Put your heart into it…people will not judge you by the way you look, they’re going to go, ‘Man, they sound great!’ That’s what matters.”
Aggieland Mariachi president and psychology senior Sabrina Cuadra said she came to A&M looking for an organization where she could fit in and explore her culture since her high school had not given her the opportunity to do so.
“I’m also very music-oriented,” Cuadra said. “I grew up playing piano, playing [the] violin and stuff like that…so I was kind of looking for a combination of [these two qualities in an organization]. Somehow mariachi came into play, so I found them at MSC Open House, and I thought, ‘You know what, I’ll give it a shot.’”
Cuadra said she has enjoyed her time in Aggieland Mariachi, going from someone who had never played in a mariachi before, to the organization’s president.
“After I joined the organization, I think it was a combination of the music, the performance aspect [and] the people I was performing with that brought me into it,” Cuadra said. “I ended up falling in love with the organization, the people there, the music and everything.”
Vice president and political science junior Adrian Moreno said he joined the group because he was interested in playing mariachi in a collegiate setting while delving into his cultural roots.
“Seeing that I get to wear the uniform, sing songs and meet people that all have a common heritage, culture and language is enticing to me,” Moreno said. “I was in mariachi in high school, and to know that there’s a mariachi at A&M was all the better.”
If students are interested in joining the organization, Cuadra said they should not let their musical skill level stop them.
“We accept musicians of any skill level – it doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or expert – we don’t care,” Cuadra said. “As long as you want to join, it’s all good with us.”

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  • The members of Aggieland Mariachi performed at the 2020 Texas Independence Day Fest at the Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historical Park.

    via Aggieland Mariachi Facebook
  • Aggieland Mariachi

    via Aggieland Mariachi Facebook
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