Ensemble Group Takes Its Tempo Online
By Faith Castle
Photography By Faith Castle
Among many organizations that cancelled activities due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Mariachi Parades, an ensemble upholding Mariachi traditions, found a new ritual for their performances.
UT Austin’s Mariachi Parades performs weekly virtual songs on their Facebook and Twitter accounts to provide content to their audience. The students individually practice and then send their clips to group member Aidan Barriga, the mastermind behind the editing.
Victoria Canales, a violist for the group, said that despite the new technology, the tradition of playing remains the same.
Monica Fogelquist, the ensemble director, wanted to keep the group together to maintain stamina. She said she was fearful of having to start over in terms of practicing and helping the group re-learn music.
The virtual performances are also a way to expose the group. Their most recent video received over 12,000 views on Facebook.
“A lot of people don’t know that there’s a mariachi group on campus,” Fogelquist said. “The more we can expose to on-campus and off-campus communities, the better for us.”
While the virtual performances created great publicity for the UT students, Fogelquist said she got the idea from various Texas high school Mariachi bands that have been spreading their tunes across the nation.
Back in late March, some students from award-winning Roma Independent School District went viral after their band director Eloy Garza posted a video on their Facebook page. Their first video has acquired over 1.3 million views and 27,000 shares.
“I thought we better hop on this bandwagon too because this is a great way to share music on a much wider platform,” Fogelquist said.
According to smithsonianfolkways.edu, the United States is host to many mariachi musicians and hundreds of high school programs that perform in major concert halls, celebrations, and restaurants. The goal is to embrace and preserve Mexican cultural heritage through live music.
When Fogelquist joined the team back in 2018, she preceded the accomplished Ezekiel “Zeke” Castro, who traveled the world with the UT Viola Ensemble back in 1948. She tries to maintain the traditions of both the music and the group while incorporating new tactics in this social media age.
“The quality of our performances has to be a very high level regardless of it being a virtual performance or an in-person performance,” Fogelquist said. “We really want people to appreciate the quality of the music and give them something that will make them feel good because it sounds good.”