Mariachi Alas de Oro lights up Huddle

Mariachi bands are an important symbol of Mexican culture. They frequently perform to sold-out crowds of adoring fans, both young and old, happily dancing and singing along to ballads that evoke loving memories.

Unbeknownst to many St. Edward’s University students, the opportunity to hear and enjoy traditional mariachi music can be found within walking distance of their dorm rooms.

The makers of the music in question are Mariachi Alas de Oro, an eight-piece ensemble whose name translates to “map of gold.”

If you pop into The Huddle on a Wednesday night, you’re sure to see the group’s members exercising their vocal chords or strumming their fingers on warm-sounding guitars, trumpets and other instruments.

Although the crowd isn’t what you’d typically find at a venue deep in the heart of Mexico, it is appreciative and attentive to Alas de Oro’s music.

The group uses its musical talents to add to the atmosphere of The Huddle, making it much more authentic and enjoyable. When the music of Alas de Oro is playing, the cooks are more likely to smile at you as they prepare your chicken quesadilla. Stressed-out students with only an all-nighter to look forward to are invited to relax, if only for a couple of hours, and listen to music that they are unlikely to hear while plugged in to their iPods.

Although Alas de Oro’s plain black uniforms are a far cry from the traditional mariachis’ ornately adorned garb, their sound still strives toward the same goal as other, larger groups: to reach out to their audiences and make them feel something good from within.

Before the show starts, many members of the band have intense expressions on their faces, brows furrowed in concentration. As soon as the music begins, however, the musicians visibly relax. They begin to play songs about love, romance and other things, and their behavior and presence on stage reveal their enjoyment in the music.

“I love when we play ‘Carino’ because it’s very romantic,” said group member Jean Viera, who has been involved with mariachi music and culture since she was 13.

Like many others in the group, Viera has another connection to the music scene at St. Edward’s — Viera was a part of the St. Edward’s orchestra when she heard about Mariachi Alas de Oro.

Viera’s fellow mariachi player, sophomore Melissa Mulgrew, first heard about the group through her time spent in the Carriage House, where music classes are held on campus.

“I’m always in [the Carriage House], and there were a lot of signs [for the mariachi], so I decided to check it out,” Mulgrew said. “It’s my favorite class.”

Mulgrew’s favorite song is “Rinconsito,” because she says it makes the group feel unified to all sing together.

When it comes to what Mariachi Alas de Oro is all about, it is evident in the behavior and smiles on the faces of the musicians — the bottom line for these performers is having fun.