Mariachi Estrella Del Oeste is the Franklin High School Mariachi Ensemble in El Paso, TX. With dedication to the Mariachi tradition, the group is comprised of students at Franklin High School. The program is in it's third year.
Mariachi Club Officers 2023-24'
President - Anais Santos
Vice-Presidents - Rubi Sandoval
Historian - Elaine Drusina
Librarian - CJ Santos
Uniform Manager - Diego Leon
FHS Mariachi Write Up Feature
By Carrie Ring, Bear Ridge High Ridge Living Magazine
Mariachi lives on in the Borderland at Franklin High School
Emily Fernandez, a Junior at Franklin High School, is a Bear Ridge High Ridge neighbor who reached out to share a new and unique opportunity Mariachi Estrella Del Oeste for students attending Franklin High School. In this FHS Program, students learn traditional Mexican music that is appropriate for their skill level. The ensemble concentrates on correct instrumental techniques, music reading skills, memorization, ear training, and stage presence.
Mexico is famous for mariachi. A term which refers to the person, the group, and the music (a mariachi plays mariachi in a mariachi!), mariachi began in Jalisco, Mexico, and has been thriving and surviving throughout the country and Borderland for decades.
Mariachi Estrella Del Oeste translated, Mariachi Star of the West, is a new music program offered at Franklin High School under the direction of Mr. Mike Hernandez.
"Being able to provide quality education of music and culture of the region is essential to keeping these traditions and music alive. Public School Mariachi Programs provide students with many opportunities and skills but also provides positive learning attitudes and continued participation in general music throughout life", said Mr. Hernandez. “Being a part of this group has opened a new world of music for me since I hadn’t really appreciated mariachi music before. But I have learned that regardless of your background or culture, mariachi music can be appreciated by everyone. I want to make my friends and neighbors aware of this amazing program, as well as some of the area middle/high school students to consider this program,” said Emily.
There are 16 students in the FHS group that all come from different musical and theatrical backgrounds. “Our trumpets are in marching band, our violins are in the Franklin Orchestra, we have someone in ballroom dancing, and a couple of our members are in theatre. Not all of us knew each other at the beginning of the year, but I feel like Mariachi has brought us very close and I've made some amazing friends”, shared Emily. “Orchestra is great and all, but I love being able to play my instrument in an entirely new style of music and having the rush of the crowd cheering while I'm playing”, said Emily.
Whether attending a birthday party or a festival, crowds can’t help but get giddy when a mariachi band shows up. The culture has been the musical heart and soul of our border region for decades. With mariachi bands making appearances in movies like “Coco” and mariachi cover songs on YouTube. For example, look up ‘Metalachi’ and the mariachi cover of “Hopelessly Devoted To You” – its popularity is increasing. History of Mariachi Mariachi began as a rural tradition in western Mexico, around the 1880s. Gradually, as more people went urban, mariachi became commonplace in the city. It was in 1898 in Mexico City that Mariachi Vargas, the oldest and one of the best-known mariachi groups in the world was founded. A few decades later, in 1934, at President Lazaro Cardenas' request, mariachis played at his inauguration.
Mariachi is played in numerous styles. The popular Mexican song Cielito Lindo (Beautiful Heaven), with its "ay, yay, yay, yay, yay, canta y no llores (sing and do not cry)," is a classic version of the country style known as the ranchera. The Son is a common folk style, combining elements of African beat, Andalusian gypsy, and indigenous Mexican. Finally, the Jarabe style consists of music that many people dance to. The jarabe was established as the national dance of Mexico in 1924.
Perhaps what makes mariachi musicians most recognizable are their elaborate costumes. Musicians wear a three-piece suit, boots, and usually, custom embroidered ties, belts, and buttons. No mariachi outfit is complete without the extremely wide-brimmed sombrero. The mariachi uniform evolved directly from the uniform worn by the gentleman cowboys, or charros, in the Mexican rodeo. Instruments In traditional mariachi, instruments such as the acoustic guitar; bass guitar; high-pitched five-string guitar; violin; harp; and trumpet are played. The accordion and harmonica are common in many contemporary groups. In mariachi, it's common for every band member to not only play an instrument but also sing.
Song topics in mariachi are diverse, ranging from love and happiness to heartbreak and anger. The ranchera genre of mariachi includes songs about lost love and longing as well as pride and joy. The jarab¬e style promotes dating and courtship. Another style, known as the corrido, tells stories that can be either historical or fiction.
Many Mexican states and regions have a popular mariachi style. In the southeastern state of Veracruz, the son jarocho is famous for its improvisations and flashy solos. In central Mexican states such as San Luis Potosi and Hidalgo, the Huapango is a popular mariachi variant. In the Huapango style, the violin represents the backbone of a complex rhythm.
Modern mariachi is performed much like traditional mariachi. However, many contemporary mariachis use nontraditional instruments such as the harmonica and accordion. Many Mexican-Americans, as well as other cultures throughout the world, view mariachi as a direct link to traditional Mexico, to a celebration, or to a cultural identity.
Here in El Paso, you can visit the Chamizal National Memorial. Located at 800 S. San Marcial St, El Paso, TX, United States, Texas. The Chamizal Convention of 1963 was a milestone in diplomatic relations between Mexico and the United States. Chamizal National Memorial was established to commemorate this treaty, which resulted in the harmonious settlement of a century-long boundary dispute. The Memorial provides visitors with an opportunity to better understand the culture of our borderland. The Cultural Center is open 10 am - 5 pm every day of the week and one hour before a scheduled evening performance.
“I would love everyone to know about the exciting new mariachi program at Franklin, and that even those without prior music experience can participate. We have been very active in events in the area such as UIL, All-Region, and the Border Folk Festival”, said Emily.
If you are interested in booking the mariachi group, you can visit https://fhsmariachi.com/ and click on either the Contact tab or the Fundraisers & Donations tab. Mariachi Estrella Del Oeste’s next public concert will be a Mother's Day concert on May 6th which is open to everyone, and free to attend. For more information visit their website.
Carrie Ring, CFEE
Bear Ridge High Ridge Living Magazine