Mariachi Northwestern wows in 1st annual spring variety show

Maddie Elkins, Reporter

Mariachi Northwestern hosted its first annual Spring Variety show Sunday night to showcase Hispanic culture.

The show featured performances by Mariachi NU, guitarist Mitch Green and Ballet Folklorico Mexicano de Northwestern: Ritmo de mis Ancestros (Rhythm of my Ancestors). About 50 people came to Jones Residential College’s Great Room for the show, which was hosted by varsity basketball player Reggie Hearn and Communication junior Juanita Andersen.

“Mariachi NU was founded in the laundry room of Plex by Daniel Flores and Antonio (Vielma) early Fall Quarter,” said Hearn, a Weinberg senior. “Ever since starting from the bottom of Plex, they’ve appeared on the Northwestern homepage and will be playing during Dillo Day.”

Ritmo de mis Ancestros, a student group dedicated to traditional Mexican song and dance, kicked off the show. After the dancers finished, Hearn and Andersen held Weinberg freshman Genesis Villalobos back, looking at their watches and leaving the audience confused. After a comedically awkward pause, Mariachi NU came onstage and began to serenade her, playing the traditional Mexican birthday song “Las Mananitas” and switching to a festive rendition of “Happy Birthday” before allowing her to leave the stage.

Ritmo de mis Ancestros continued with several other songs, including the well-known “El Rey,” before clearing the stage for guitarist Mitch Green. The Bienen freshman played “Asturias,” a flamenco piece by Isaac Albeniz, and ” The Tarantella” by Mario Castelnuovo Tedesco, awing the audience, which erupted in applause when he finished.

After several more songs, Mariachi lead singer and Weinberg freshman Alejandro Serrano led the audience in a grito competition. Three audience members were brought up on stage and given hats to wear, and each performed their best grito, a cry commonly heard in Mariachi music. Hearn and Andersen then introduced guitarron player Wilson Smith, a Weinberg and Bienen freshman who arranged the modern numbers that followed. The group played covers of popular bachata song “Incondicional” by Prince Royce, “Gangnam Style” by PSY and “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, complete with Serrano on a scooter.

The show ended with an encore performance of “La Bamba,” to which the audience clapped and sang along.

Mariachi NU has grown quickly over the past year, said founder Daniel Flores said last month. The group was built by word of mouth to find students who were interested and knew how to play instruments, the Communication junior said. He added that Mariachi began performing as soon as possible, playing its first show shortly after holding its first practice.

Flores said Mariachi NU plays in many different settings: Valentine’s Day serenades, departmental events, cultural events and more. The group also hosts Mariachi clinics for students who may have not had the chance otherwise.