Mariachi Band a First for TLU Students

October 13, 2015

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It’s common for college students to bond with their peers over similar interests. When Mayra Peña and Selena Cervantes met during freshman orientation in 2012, they discovered a shared passion: mariachi music. Now, three years later, Peña and Cervantes formed Texas Lutheran University’s first mariachi band, Oro y Negro.

Watch the video of Oro y Negro performing on the TLU YouTube channel.

The nine-member ensemble is complete with three violins, three trumpets, and two guitars—including a traditional vihuela. With Peña on violin, Cervantes playing classical guitar, and both on lead vocals, the group plays all types of traditional mariachi music, including favorites like “El Rey,” “Volver,” and “Hermoso Cariño.”

“It was always on our bucket list to start a group before graduation,” Cervantes, senior music education major, said. “We always had people interested and lots of support from the Mexican-American Student Association (MASA) and Professor Shaaron Conoly. They all encouraged us to start the group.”

As first-generation college students, Cervantes and Peña said the music and similar experiences they shared growing up are what truly inspired them to start Oro y Negro.

“Growing up in the Mexican culture, mariachi was always a big part of my life,” Peña, senior music education, major said. “I joined a group at my high school—Brackenridge—in San Antonio. We would play at all kinds of gigs for weddings, churches, and quinceañeras. Being at TLU and in Seguin, we see Oro y Negro as an important way to not only promote Hispanic heritage, but as a way for people from all backgrounds to enjoy this culture. Mariachi music is full of passion and excitement and we want to share that with everyone.”

That sense of excitement is what drew Cervantes to singing and playing mariachi music.

“It’s such a different style that brings a certain energy,” Cervantes said. “I’ve seen it touch people in ways that really moved me. One of my favorite places to perform was in retirement homes and seeing the way older people responded to our music. That was when I fell in love with mariachi. We want to continue sharing this music through Oro y Negro with everyone.”

For Cervantes and Peña, mariachi goes beyond celebrating Hispanic heritage and Mexican culture.

“While we are in Seguin and so close to San Antonio where promoting Hispanic heritage is very important, it’s also important for people to know that every person from every culture can enjoy the music,” Peña said. “Everyone can be part of its energy and spirit.”

Pictured at top left to right: Students Mara Benitez, Selena Cervantes, Alex Solis, Christian Steins, Jasmine Aranda, Mayra Peña. Other members of Oro y Negro not pictured include students Christian Ayala, Manuel Martinez, and Joseph Kennell, and faculty advisor Chris Dickens.

Anyone interested in auditioning for Oro y Negro, or booking the group for a performance, can contact Mayra Peña at mapena@tlu.edu or Selena Cervantes at sccervantes@tlu.edu.


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