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A Mariachi Celebration In Southeast Michigan

Mariachi Nuevo Santander in Hill Auditorium

Take a look back at an unforgettable week of celebration in Ann Arbor, Flint, and Detroit, featuring the inspiring and award-winning students of Mariachi Nuevo Santander…


1. Champion Musicians Head to Ann Arbor

Last December, the incredibly talented young musicians from Mariachi Nuevo Santander of Roma, TX won the 2019 National Mariachi High School Group Competition at the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza in San Antonio. This prize also earned them a trip to Ann Arbor courtesy of the University of Michigan Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, to perform as an opening act for Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán and participate in meaningful community and engagement activities.

Mariachi Nuevo Santander Wins Award


2. An In-School Cultural Learning Experience

For five weeks leading up to Mariachi Vargas’s School Day Performance, UMS partnered with Ann Arbor’s Scarlett Middle School to design a full interdisciplinary unit about mariachi music. Alongside learning about the history and culture of the Mexican tradition, students designed and painted a special mural with Elton Monroy Duran, a UMS teaching artist and Mexican-American muralist whose work can be seen throughout Southwest Detroit.

Mariachi mural at Scarlett Middle School


3. ‘Engaging Performance’ Class at U-M

Mariachi Nuevo Santander led a discussion of mariachi music and its significance in Mexican culture with the “Engaging Performance” class at U-M. UMS offers this class each winter semester in collaboration with the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and the School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

Mariachi Nuevo Santander in Engaging Performance class


4. Visit to Flint, MI

After “Engaging Performance,” the group headed up to Flint, MI, giving a family-friendly mini-performance at Educare Flint thanks to a partnership with Michigan Medicine and Hurley Children’s Hospital. They also participated in a performance exchange and dinner with members from El Ballet Folklórico Estudiantil and UM-Flint’s Music Department and Latin American Student Association.

Mariachi Nuevo Santander at Educare Flint


5. Southwest Detroit Community Dinner

Mariachi Nuevo Santander spent a fun day enjoying the sights and sounds of Detroit and joined Ballet Folklórico de Detroit in performance at a dinner hosted by UMS for community members of Southwest Detroit and participants from Living Arts Detroit.

Ballet Folklorico de Detroit and Mariachi Nuevo Santander


6. School Day Performance in Hill Auditorium

Special guests Mariachi Nuevo Santander joined the world-renowned Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán for a packed School Day Performance at Hill Auditorium!

Mariachi Vargas Performs with Mariachi Nuevo Santander

In total, more than 3,000 K-12 students from 28 schools across Southeast Michigan attended.

Students arrive at Hill Auditorium


7. U-M Student Dinner

Catalina Ormsby, U-M Associate Director for the Center for Educational Outreach, introduced the Michigan experience to Mariachi Nuevo Santander, who met with representatives from Latinx student organizations across campus (La Casa, Corazones Unidos Siempre, Chi Upsilon Sigma, Lambda Theta Phi, Latin Fraternity, Inc., and Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies).

U-M student dinner


8. Final Goodbye at Scarlett Middle School…

Celebrating the conclusion of their six-week immersive curriculum, students of Scarlett Middle School participated in workshops with members of Mariachi Nuevo Santander.

At the end of a school-wide assembly and performance by more than 300 kids, Scarlett Middle School Principal Gerald Vazquez reinforced that Scarlett is a safe space for all students — that “you, this generation of diverse students, are what makes America great.”


9. …And an Encore at UMMA

Before taking off for their flight back to Texas, Mariachi Nuevo Santander gave a free pop-up performance at the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

Mariachi Nuevo Santander at UMMA



A special thank you to our sponsors and to all those who invest in UMS with an annual gift — making it possible for us to bring immersive learning opportunities beyond the stage for students throughout Southeast Michigan each season.

Michigan Medicine Logo    U-M Office of DEI    NEA logo

Masks at Southwest Detroit Immersion

mask making workshop
As part of a day-long Southwest Detroit Mexican Arts & Culture immersion, teachers created masks at the Detroit Institute of Arts. We’re getting ready for Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán on April 1, 2016.

Photo and Audio Tour of Detroit’s Mexicantown

Editor’s note: The Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán return to Ann Arbor on April 1, 2016.

Mariachi Vargas is one of the most highly regarded ensembles in the history of mariachi. Founded in a small city near Jalisco by Don Gaspar Vargas in the 1890s, this band basically invented the modern mariachi, and five generations later, is still playing today.

To explore the music’s connection to our community, we asked WDET’s Martina Guzmán to give us a tour of Detroit’s Mexicantown, a neighborhood with over 100 years of history in the city. Check out the tour below, with images by Detroit-based photographer Erik Howard.

We also visited the LA SED (Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development) Senior Center in the neighborhood, where we heard many stories about the community importance of mariachi music.


“I was born and raised through Mariachis,” Lupe Guzmán says. “Don’t believe what I say, but Mariachi music is like medicine. Mariachi…you have one on side and another Mariachi on the other side, and they make you alive.”


Beatrice Gonzales was a singer when she was younger. She bought the dress in this photo in Mexico 35 years ago. She says that she is still in love with the tradition of Mariachis.


Arnulfo Guiterrez’ favorite song is “El Mariachi Loco.” It’s a LA SED Senior Center favorite for dancing.


UMS thanks AARP for coordinating ticketing and transportation for a group of LA SED seniors to attend the Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán performance.

This Week in Numbers: Where in Southeastern Michigan is UMS?

This week at UMS is one of the busiest all season, so you  might notice that posting on the UMS Lobby is a little lighter than usual! With the presentation of three different ensembles three days in a row (The Tallis Scholars, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, and Assi El Helani) combined with our collaboration on the presentation of the ONCE. MORE. event, UMS staff will be all over southeastern Michigan between Ann Arbor and Detroit, with many stops at the airport! Here’s what we’re up to, by the numbers:

  • 6 concerts (including one youth performance)
  • 11 airport runs
  • 4 school visits
  • 1 hospital visit
  • 5 community receptions
  • 3 artist/student workshops
  • 1 Arts & Eats
  • 4 exhibits/installations
  • 3 public lectures

We hope you’ll find a way to participate in this week’s offerings–check out the public events here.

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