Patrick Henry Middle School’s Alan Aguilar’s co-first-place vocal finish at the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza was more than just taking home the No. 1 spot in the biggest event of the year, but a representation of the deep culture of the mariachi that is important to many HISD students.
“We are representing our culture, not just in Mexico but all of Latin America,” said mariachi teacher Jose Longoria. “Mariachi is universal music now. We are passing down something to students. The bigger picture here is the support of the academics. We want to make sure the students are talented, and they use their talent in the community through performances. We have great opportunities to perform in different places, but for them to be able to perform they have to be in good standing academically.”
Longoria, a third-generation mariachi performer, also took home first place at last weekend’s Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza in San Antonio for song writing, but Aguilar’s historic vocal first-place finish was the first in the program’s 20-year history. Aguilar is a proud advocate of the mariachi program offered at HISD.
“I’m really excited because this represents the school,” Aguilar said. “(And it) feels great to be an example for all the rest of the mariachis.”
Aguilar competed against middle school students from Houston, San Antonio, Pasadena, and Las Vegas. He also plays violin, and as part of the program that is also offered at Sam Houston MSTC, practices with the University of Houston once a week.
“If they really like this music and takes it seriously, he [other students] can come and get a chance like I did with my first time in the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza,” Aguilar said.