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55 Schools Competed at State Mariachi Festival Pilot

By Lauren Kelley, UIL Intern | Tuesday, August 23, 2016 10:27 AM

The State Mariachi Festival pilot was held at Southwest High School in San Antonio.

This past spring the UIL Music Department brought together students from across the state to celebrate the rich history and culture of Mexico through the UIL State Mariachi competition.

“In 2007, UIL began offering mariachi as a medium ensemble on the region level, but there was no advancement to a state event,” Director of Music Dr. Brad Kent said. “We felt like the next step was to create a state event to help continue the growth and development of mariachi programs in our schools.”

This spring, 55 schools competed at the State Mariachi Festival pilot at Southwest High School in San Antonio.

“We were excited to see such a high level of participation and were pleased with the high quality of the groups,” Kent said. “Most participants and spectators told us how much they enjoyed the event, as well as how excited they were that UIL created a state level event exclusively for Mariachi.”

The Mariachi festival is a hybrid of state solo and ensemble contest and the state wind ensemble festival. Like solo and ensemble, each group receives a rating from the judges, and each group receives a clinic from an internationally-recognized artist, similar to the state wind ensemble festival.

“We hope that the participation level will remain high and that our schools benefit from the outstanding judges and clinicians, as well as the performance venue,” Kent said.

At the competition, 15 ensembles received a Division I rating (the highest possible rating), but that was only one highlight of the event.

“Seeing the joy on the students’ faces as they performed was the most rewarding aspect of the event for me,” Kent said.

Kent said the biggest challenge looking forward will be finding a large enough venue to accommodate the growing popularity of the contest.

“Based on the excitement around the festival we expect the event to continue and expect that we will see higher levels of participation in the coming years,” Kent said. “We look forward to providing the state mariachi festival as a vehicle for our schools to display the highest level of achievement in this rapidly growing genre of music.”