By LAURA LYLES REAGAN
Special to the PRESS
Point Isabel ISD proudly announced on December 17 that the Port Isabel High School Mariachi Plata earned a Division 1 Superior Rating at the Texas Association Mariachi Educators South Area Contest. It qualified them to compete at the state level on February 7 at Seguin High School in Seguin, Texas.
The ensemble is under the direction of Mr. Obed Salas. A veteran music educator for more than thirteen years. His musical heritage began as a child listening to his grandfather and father play since they were musicians in Mexico.
It is a proud tradition he carries forward to his students. “We are very proud of this group of students. It is the second time we have won the area competition but the first time we have had such young musicians. They show great self-discipline,” said Salas. Half of the first winning ensemble graduated last year. Mr. Salas recruited and trained the new musicians through the summer months to prepare for this year.
The group practices eight hours a week including after school hours and some Saturdays prior to competitions. The ensemble consists of thirteen members. The violin section is comprised of five students. The brass section has four trumpeters and the rhythm or strumming section consists of the guitarron or bass guitar with a belly on it, the vihuela, the guitarra de golpe and the classical guitar with one student on each type of guitar. Sometimes there is a harp, but this year the group did not have a harp player. All members of the group sing, but there are four lead singers, two males and two females.
The Mariachi Plata prepared and performed a repertoire of three pieces, varying in length and type. The type refers to the region of Mexico the style originated, one is from Jalisco, the other is from Veracruz and one is a bolero or classic love song. The different types require different colors in the voices with accents and different strumming patterns.
The ensemble will not change its repertoire in the state competition but will incorporate commentary from the critique of the judges at the area competition. The state competition is organized through the Texas Association of Mariachi Educators (TAME). Mariachi Plata will compete with ensembles from five different regions of Texas. The association is relatively new, only founded five years ago.
PIISD Director of Bands, Mr. Scott Hartsfield stated that he was proud of the achievements of Mr. Salas and the students. He echoed Mr. Salas’ commendation of the students’ self-discipline. Hartsfield also said, “Winning is not the only achievement. The life lessons of practice and staying the course in adversity were essential to the ensembles progress.”
“We spend a lot of time with our students. We learn about their problems, homelife and their dreams. The investment of time and heart is worthwhile when you see them grow,” said Hartsfield.
The Point Isabel ISD Department of Instrumental Music would like to thank the community, band boosters, campus principals, in particular, Port Isabel High School Principal – Mrs. Imelda Munivez, the Board of Trustees, and Ms. Theresa Alarcon – Superintendent of Schools for their continued support.