By John Philip Wyllie
Mariachi Bonita, Bonita Vista High School’s vastly improved Mariachi ensemble concluded its second year of existence with a pair of showcase performances June 9 and 10 in the BVHS gymnasium. Band Director, Del Bangle called the production the Viva Nuestro Corozon II Mariachi Bonita Concert and Talent Show. It was an evening of singing, folklorico and music for an enthusiastic audience of friends, parents and relatives. It also marked the final performance for a core group of graduating seniors that have been instrumental (no pun intended) to the development of the ensemble.
“I had a very talented singer this year in Darianna Galindo (pictured left) and a very talented violinist, Careem Gomez,” Bangle said. “Those are going to be big shoes to fill. Careem is planning to enlist in the Navy, but he has promised to return after boot camp and help instruct our younger violinists. I also was lucky to have a pair of fine vihuela players in Alan Serrano and Luis Osorio. The vihuela is the rhythmic driving force that develops musical momentum for the group. Victor Marquez, one of our trumpet players, was another driving force and one that kept everybody together and added to the continued growth of the group as a whole.
Starting with just a single student in September of 2003, Mariachi Bonita currently boasts 30 members. It has grown not only in size, but in ability as well. That fact became obvious in March when the group participated in the Sweetwater Union High School District’s Mariachi Conference.
“All the Mariachi groups in the district gathered at Chuey’s Restaurant in Southeast San Diego,” Bangle said. “And I was pleased with the way we stacked up against the bands, bands that have been in business for a long time. That was our first big event of the year and this past Thursday and Friday was our big year end performance for the school and the community.”
In addition the showcasing the student’s progress, the event served as a fundraiser for some ambitious plans the group has for next year.
“We had a taquero there and we sold drinks and snacks to raise money for what I hope will be a short concert tour next year. We haven’t decided yet where we will go, but there is always the International Mariachi Conference in Tucson. Right now though, I’m thinking more in terms of heading south to Guadalajara or Mexico City.”
Bangle doesn’t know where his talented quintet of seniors will end up, but he knows they will be missed. He would not be surprised if they continue playing Mariachi music in college.
“Sometimes a student will find after graduating that they really miss this and so they study it at the college level. Southwestern College is one school that is offering a new AA degree in Mariachi music.”
Regardless of whether they pursue it or not, all of Bangle’s graduates have at least developed a love for Mariachi music.