President Barack Obama has asked University of Texas-Pan American's Mariachi Aztlán for an encore.
The group, which played for the president in 2010, has been invited back to play again, this time at President Obama’s 2013 inaugural festivities, including performances at the “Black Tie and Boots Ball” on Jan. 19, which features 20 performers from Texas; a Latino Gala, and as guests at the Presidential Inauguration on Monday, Jan. 21.
"We are very proud to be representing student excellence from UTPA at the inaugural events. The Mariachi students are excited to be attending such a momentous historical occasion and are especially happy that mariachi music and the music of the Hispanic culture from the Rio Grande Valley are being recognized at a national level," said Dr. Dahlia Guerra, dean of UTPA's College of Arts and Humanities and the founder of university's mariachi program.
Before the musicians depart for D.C., local fans and supporters will get an opportunity to enjoy Mariachi Aztlán's expressions of the beauty and exuberance of Mexican folk music at four performances of the "Sounds and Splendors of Mexico," Jan. 11-13 in Edinburg.
The concerts will also feature performances by the Luz de Luna Folkloric Dance Ensemble and the Mariachi Juvenil de America.
The UTPA mariachi program is directed by Francisco Loera, a Department of Modern Languages and Literature's faculty member. Since 1989, the UTPA Mariachi Aztlán has traveled throughout the U.S., Mexico and Canada as ambassadors representing the beauty of Hispanic music and cultural traditions.
In 2010, Mariachi Aztlán bested top professional groups when it was named the grand champion at the Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque national competition. Mariachi Aztlán also performed that year with the Houston Grand Opera in the premiere of the world's first Mariachi opera - "Cruzar la Cara de la Luna (To Cross the Face of the Moon).
In 2011, the troupe won first place for the second consecutive year at the Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque and was invited to perform at the Hollywood Bowl, selected from professional groups across the nation. Last year, the mariachi performed at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival and at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
This April, the Mariachi Aztlán is scheduled to perform Cruzar la Cara de la Luna in Chicago area venues with the Lyric Opera of Chicago.