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Top Mariachi musicians visit UNT camp

Mariachi camp 2008The internationally-renowned Mariachi Sol de Mexico — a Grammy-nominated ensemble —  will be the headline performer of the UNT Mariachi Aguilitas Summer Camp, an annual week-long workshop that teaches musical skills to middle school and high school mariachi players. Camp participants will have the chance to perform with Mariachi Sol de Mexico on one song during the group’s first ever concert at UNT, which will open with a performance by Denton-based professional mariachi ensemble Mariachi Quetzal.

The concert with Mariachi Sol de Mexico takes place at 7 p.m. July 26 in the UNT Murchison Performing Arts Center, and is funded in part by the Mary Jo and V. Lane Rawlins Fine Arts Series. A special VIP reception with the members of Mariachi Sol de Mexico takes place prior to the concert at 6 p.m.

  • Tickets: $15 for general admission, $10 for UNT faculty, staff and alumni; $5 for ages 8 to 18; and free for children under age 8, UNT students and for the UNT mariachi campers. Buy tickets online or call the box office at 940-369-7802.

The Mariachi Sol de Mexico performance follows the campers’ free, public concert at 1:30 p.m., also on July 26 in the Murchison Performing Arts Center.

Both events will be the culmination of four days of instruction, rehearsals and jam sessions at the UNT Mariachi Camp, which runs July 22 – 26. The founder of Mariachi Sol de Mexico, Jóse Hernàndez, will also serve on the camp’s faculty for the week — his fifth year as guest instructor.  Along with other teachers, including members of UNT’s mariachi ensemble Mariachi Águilas, he will help the dozens of aspiring musicians work on traditional mariachi skills, including singing and playing the guitarron, trumpet, guitar, vihuela and violin.

But camp organizer Donna Emmanuel said the aguilitas, or “little eagles,” learn more than music.

“The campers really value coming together with other students to share their love for mariachi, to make new friends and to study with renowned experts, all while experiencing a college environment,” said Emmanuel, a UNT professor of music education.

While the campers come from a variety of backgrounds, Donna noted that for a few attendees each year, this camp is the first time they have been on a university campus.

“Some of our campers come from families where no one in their family has gone to college,” said Emmanuel. She added that roughly 30 first-generation students have enrolled at UNT since the camp began.

Throughout the week, workshop sessions are held in classrooms in the UNT Music Building. Campers also spend time in UNT residence and dining halls. Additionally, Emmanuel tries to make sure information about college is readily available and that the students are introduced to processes such as admissions, financial aid and on-campus housing.

The Mariachi Aguilitas Summer Camp has grown every year since it first began in 2008 as a limited-enrollment, pilot program with 25 campers. Since then, additional days have been added. Enrollment doubled each year until it reached 120 students. It is now capped at 100 attendees, with students coming from across the United States.

-- Monique Bird, News Promotions

Above, camp participants Oscar Rea on vihuela (left) and Alex Tapia on guitar (center) rehearse with the help of UNT student and camp instructor Jason Molina on vihuela (right) at the 2008 mariachi camp at UNT. Photo credit: Jonathan Reynolds/UNT.

Posted on: Wed 09 July 2014

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