Special concert pays tribute to moms on Mother’s Day weekend

This coming Mother’s Day weekend, Serenata para las Madres will pay a special tribute to our beloved mothers. This unique Mother’s Day serenade takes place on Saturday, May 9, at San Antonio’s Charline McCombs Empire Theatre. Headliners include international television artists Angélica Vargas of La Academia Kids, Jackelyn Barrera of La Voz Kids, and Vanessa Cerda Alonzo of Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento.

For the past 20 years, San Antonio’s Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza has been cultivating and showcasing local and regional mariachi talent. The Extravaganza’s student mariachi group and vocal competitions have evolved into the most competitive and longest continuously existing events of their kind in the world. Anyone who has attended these will attest to the astoundingly high quality of the participants, particularly in the middle school, high school, and college/university categories. Many contestants have gone on to become members of renowned mariachi groups, and/or vocal artists in their own right. With this in mind, the Extravaganza’s founding producer, Cynthia Muñoz — a San Antonio native and a former mariachi musician herself — decided it was time to showcase this cornucopia of young talent in a formal concert dedicated to mothers everywhere.

The highest distinction any contestant can receive in the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza Vocal Competition is a ‘best overall singer’ award titled “Best Mariachi Vocalist in the U.S.” Along with numerous other champions from their respective divisions, Serenata para las Madres features three winners of this coveted award: Vanessa Cerda Alonzo, William Carlton Gálvez, and Jackelyn Barrera.

Houston-born Vanessa Cerda Alonzo won the “Best Mariachi Vocalist in the U.S.” award in 1999. Since then, she has opened for Mariachi Vargas at concerts in San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and Houston, and has performed on Estrella TV’s Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento. Vanessa later became a cast member with the Houston Grand Opera company for the mariachi opera Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, and she currently performs with the Chicago Lyric Opera company in the newest of mariachi operas, El Pasado Nunca se Termina.

In 2013, Kyle, Texas native William Carlton Gálvez was declared “Best Mariachi Vocalist in the U.S.” for his interpretation of Mexican songwriter María Grever’s magnum opus “Júrame.” When he recently performed this technically challenging song at the San Antonio Symphony’s Fiesta Pops concert, Express-News music critic Hector Saldaña described it as a “stun-gun moment.”

Roma, Texas native daughter Jackelyn Barrera is tileholder of the 2014 “Best Mariachi Vocalist in the U.S.” award. This multi-talented 15-year-old Roma High School freshman plays violin in her school’s Junior Varsity Mariachi Santander. In January of this year, she was invited to Florida, where she sang on Telemundo’s La Voz Kids television show.

San Antonio-born Angélica Vargas is the daughter of longtime Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán member Manuel Vargas. In 2009, at age six, she won first-place in the Elementary School division of the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza vocal contest. Since then, she has appeared in two films and on numerous television shows, TV Azteca’s La Academia Kids being the most recent of these. As her outstanding debut CD affirms, this precocious seventh-grader demonstrates a mastery of styles and a musical maturity far beyond her tender age of 13.

The University of Texas-Pan American at Edinburg’s prestigious Mariachi Aztlán is widely considered the finest collegiate mariachi ensemble in the world. The group’s latest CD, Mi Nombre es México, confirms this distinction beyond any doubt. Winner of more awards at more mariachi competitions than any other ensemble in history, Mariachi Aztlán has not only performed throughout the U.S. (most recently at the White House), but in Mexico and Canada as well. Last year, the group accompanied the mariachi opera Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, and they are currently accompanying El Pasado Nunca se Termina. Two Aztlán members, Mónica Fogelquist and Clyde Guerra, are Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza Vocal Competition champions in their own right.

Mariachi Azteca de América is the pride of San Antonio. Formed nine years ago by native son Gino Rivera, the group has earned a reputation not only for excellence, but for originality. Azteca de América’s recent CD, Dame un Minuto, features 10 original arrangements by its leader, arranger/composer/violinist/vocalist Gino Rivera. The group was recently voted best mariachi group in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s mariachi competition, where they performed in front of a live audience of over 70,000 people.

Serenata para las Madres takes place Saturday, May 9, at 7:30 p.m., at the Charline McCombs Empire Theatre, located at 226 N. St. Mary’s Street in San Antonio. Many award-winning vocalists other than those mentioned will also perform on the show. Tickets are on sale now at ticketmaster.com.

Sponsors include H-E-B, Jefferson Bank, KVDF TV 31 Azteca América San Antonio, KEDA Radio Jalapeño 1540 AM/102.3 FM, and La Prensa newspapers. Serenata para las Madres is produced by MPR, producers of the annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza. For more information visit mariachimusic.com.