Los Caimanes: New Mariachi group set to shine
By Ana Gonzalez
It all started with an idea. Jose Vasquez, Assistant Director of Student Activities did not expect to lead a group of talented musicians with a bit of Mexican flair.
Then it sparked. “Los Caimanes” – which is Spanish for “the gators” – are born and ready to shine bright, with plans to bring stellar performances as well as to compete in the near future.
According to Vasquez, the Mariachi group was highly requested for a long time by UHD administrators.
“[President Dr. Juan Sanchez Munoz and many other administrators were supportive of the idea,” he said, “the school could use a bit of a music group that can perk the interest, especially since we have a diverse student body.”
Vasquez saw the demand increase after he hosted three interest meetings. About 25-30 students showed up. Even if students could not make it to the meetings, they emailed him expressing interest.
The popularity of the forming Mariachi group expanded outside UHD. In fact, Vasquez says he had received emails from students in other universities in the Greater Houston area wanting to transfer to UHD just to join. “And that is why we’re here, to represent the students”.
For Jimmy Arredondo, he always wanted to sing. Before coming to UHD, he had to search for a group outside his school. He was involved with the music for six years, practicing on his own.
“I always found the music fascinating; it is part of the Mexican culture,” he said, “When I found out UHD was offering a Mariachi group, I felt that it was my chance to become a part of it.”
Along with Arredondo, trumpet player Jaylene Medina was another student who was ecstatic about joining the group. She was involved with the Mariachi group at her previous high school at Northside.
“I was always inclined with music growing up, thanks to my family. I performed at local community centers and I competed”, she said, “when I heard that UHD has a Mariachi program, I had to join!”
Guitar player Carlos Escamilla came to UHD with expectations that there would be music programs for him to enjoy for enrichment. When he saw a flyer at Student Activities, he grabbed his guitar and started to practice.
“When I came to UHD, I was disappointed that there were not many things related to music, so I am glad that this exists,” he said.
Vasquez has many plans for the Mariachi group, including plans to fundraise for their uniforms, and competitions. “The group is progressing. We are learning a few songs, and our goal is to learn at least 30 songs before the end of the academic year.”
You can expect to see them pop up around campus during events, including a Dia De Los Muertos event on October 31.
Interested students are welcome, however, you must provide your own instrument. If you are interested in joining “Los Caimanes”, email Jose Vasquez at vasquezj@ uhd.edu, or stop by A436 on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. or Thursdays at 6 p.m.