Monday, November 18, 2019
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Being a part of The University of Texas-Pan American’s acclaimed Mariachi Aztlán is a blessing for freshman and violinist Clyde Guerra, one that has allowed him to share his love for traditional Mexican music nationwide and, soon enough, with the Chicago community.

UTPA’s 16-member mariachi group has been invited to perform at the first-ever Chicago Mariachi and Folklórico Festival on June 28 at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park.

20150626 ENT-IN UTPAs-Mariachi-Aztlan“I’m excited because I’ve never been to Chicago and it’s a really nice experience to travel,” said Clyde, one of three newest members to join Mariachi Aztlán. “I look forward to sharing the culture that we have over here with Chicago. I’m hoping to gain a lot of experiences, meeting new people and becoming more independent.”

Hosted by the Mariachi Heritage Foundation, the National Museum of Mexican Art and the City of Chicago, the 3 p.m. event is free and will feature the best in mariachi and traditional Mexican dance performances as part of Millennium Park Presents.

Dr. Dahlia Guerra, dean of UTPA's College of Arts and Humanities and interim dean of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley's College of Fine Arts, said the members’ hard work year-round is one of the reasons they are in such demand to deliver an excellent workshop. On several occasions in recent years, Mariachi Aztlán brought its amazing sound to Chicago, where they delivered encore performances with the Chicago Lyric Opera. They also performed the world's first Mariachi opera with the Houston Grand Opera and played for President Barack Obama in the White House. Mariachi Aztlán is directed by Francisco Loera, lecturer III at UTPA.

Dr. Guerra recognized Chicago’s growing Hispanic community and hopes Mariachi Aztlán will continue to inspire young people to pursue higher education.

“Mariachi Aztlán members are reaching a professional level. yet they are students and role models for the younger generations,” Dr. Guerra said. “Chicago has discovered the value of promoting an activity for children that values their cultural heritage while promoting an art form that requires discipline, focus and dedication.”

Headliners at the festival include Mariachi Sol de México de José Hernandez, Mariachi Monumental de México, Academy of Mexican Dance and Music, Mexican Dance Ensemble and the Mexican Folkloric Dance Company of Chicago as well as student mariachi showcase performances.

“I have played beside them before but I think it never gets old to be playing alongside somebody that you look up to so much,” Clyde (no relation to Dr. Guerra) said of Mariachi Sol de México. “They’re a worldwide famous mariachi group, and to see them every time it’s like the first time because they’re so good.”

Clyde, who performed with the university’s mariachi last summer as a Roma High School student, said he is proud to represent UTPA and what will soon become UTRGV.

“I’m taking something that was really special to me from high school to UTRGV,” Clyde said. “It’s a really nice way to show that UTRGV provides a great way to pursue your passion."

For more information about the Chicago Mariachi and Folklórico Festival, visit www.mariachiheritagefoundation.org or call (312) 742-1168.

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