Mark Your Calendar! Island University to Host Inaugural Mariachi Festival in 2020

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – “Mariachi is a part of the fabric of our South Texas community, and it’s important to build connections with one another in a way that’s meaningful,” said Amanda Marquez, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi First-Year Seminar Professional Assistant Professor.

To showcase and celebrate mariachi in the Coastal Bend, the Island University will host its first mariachi festival on Saturday, May 9, in the Performing Arts Center (PAC). The festival will include performances by area and regional high school ensembles, and an evening performance by the University’s Mariachi de la Isla.

“It’s our hope to utilize the University as a hub for the performing arts to serve and better reflect the culture of the local community,” said Marquez who specializes in Mexican-American media history. “The South Texas region possesses a rich Mexican-American history and culture that has shaped multiple communities and deserves greater recognition and respect as a central part of the culture and identity of our institution.”

The mariachi festival began as an idea that was fostered by Dr. Rai Morales, Associate Professor of Trombone and Music Director for Mariachi de la Isla and Islander Trombone Choir, and Jim Moore, PAC Director. Thanks to a competitive Association of Performing Arts Professional grant, Morales, Moore, and Marquez traveled in early fall 2019 to Guadalajara, Mexico, to attend the Encuentro Internacional Del Mariachi y La Charrería.

“We hit the ground running,” Moore said. “The festival is all over the city. There was a mariachi Catholic Mass. There were 5-year-olds and people in their 90s singing and dancing. It tells me that underneath the surface, there’s a real desire to have the music.”

According to Moore, the trio hoped to learn more about the history and growth of mariachi in the location it originated in order to start and grow a festival at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

“There are many potential parallels seen here in Corpus Christi and in Guadalajara,” Morales said. “Even though we don’t see it as often in Corpus Christi, there’s a genuine following for this type of music. It’s in our culture.”

Immersed in the city of Guadalajara, the trio attended concerts, visited historic landmarks in Centro Historico de Guadalajara, and spoke with mariachi professionals to understand the unique connections that music fosters in communities and the logistics necessary to create a successful mariachi festival.

“Throughout my music career, I have seen music unite people,” Morales said. “Guadalajara’s festival brought in so many people of different ages and all walks of life from all over the world. I left inspired to bring that energy back to the Island University.”

Additional Information

The A&M-Corpus Christi Mariachi Festival Committee has expanded to include two more Islander professors: Andrea Montalvo-Hamid, Professional Assistant Professor of English and Hispanic Heritage Month Coordinator, and Dr. Kenneth Javier Iyescas, Associate Director of Bands, Assistant Professor of Horn and Music Education, and Director of Islander Pep Band.