Tuesday, March 5, 2024
Three Phoenix College Mariachi Ensemble members stand on campus in traditional trajes with their instruments
Rose French founded Phoenix College's Mariachi Ensemble and it's inaugural Festival
Mike Dominguez directs Phoenix College's Mariachi Ensemble, show here with his trumpet
Phoenix College's mariachi ensemble performs at the Spring 2023 graduation ceremony at the Veteran's Memorial Coliseum
Mariachi ensemble members all take on the role of lead singer or back-up vocals
Diego Verdugo will serve as emcee for Phoenix College's first Mariachi Festival

En Español. PHOENIX (March 6, 2024) ­– Phoenix College (PC) will host its first Mariachi Festival on Saturday, April 20, 2024, at 1202 W. Thomas Road. The event, from 5:00 – 9:00 pm, includes Latin American food trucks and an Artisan Marketplace in Pastor Plaza and Freshman Square, followed by performances from state-wide mariachi ensembles in Bulpitt Auditorium. Tickets are $10 for regular admission and $30 for VIP tickets, including preferred seating and a festival poster.

The Performers

In addition to the host ensemble, Phoenix College's Mariachi Osos del Valle, festival performers include Arizona State University Mariachi Los Diablos del Sol; Carl Hayden - Falcon's Folklorico de M.E.Ch.A., Mariachi Los Gauchos de Glendale Community College, Maryvale High School Mariachi Panteras de Oro, Rosie's House Mariachi Milagro Juvenil, Mariachi Los Tigres de Tolleson Elementary School. For the finale, all ensembles will unite to perform the festival’s closing song. 

About Mariachi Osos del Valle

Rose French, Phoenix College Music Faculty and Coordinator of Instrumental Studies, started the mariachi ensemble in 2019 to celebrate Hispanic culture and reflect student interests. Phoenix College is a Hispanic-serving institution, with over 58% of students identifying as Hispanic. 

Emilee Robles, a full-time music major at PC and violin player in the mariachi ensemble, stated that as a Latino Hispanic, mariachi has been a cultural bridge for her. "I'm not an immigrant. I'm never going to experience Mexican culture as a Mexican person because I was born here. But I experience that mixing pot of culture in the mariachi ensemble. We are the diversity of music here in the United States. We are loving and experiencing our heritage, which is just as important as any other music in the world."

"We have to get beyond the traditional Western Art model of music in higher ed," French said. "Not everybody wants to play the French Horn and Beethoven. One of the things I understand about my position as Coordinator of Instrumental Music at Phoenix College is that it's very community-facing. A mariachi group is powerful culturally and musically. I felt a responsibility to make that happen."

Performance Experience

Mariachi Osos del Valle attended the Tucson International Mariachi Conference in April 2023. "That was a new experience for most of us," said violinist Iris Vega, "because we hadn't yet played for that many people, especially on a stage where the most known mariachi played." "Even for our first time gigging as a Phoenix College group––some of us playing for a while, some of us who haven't––we placed 8th out of 22 ensembles. We were pretty proud of that." said Kate Romero of Mariachi Osos del Valle. 

The ensemble, directed by Mike Dominguez, was invited by the Mexican Consulate to perform at the Arizona State Capitol on September 15 for a Mexican Independence Day celebration. Andrew Ramos, who plays the guitarrón, which is similar to a bass guitar, said, "Being able to see all of my friends perform what we've been practicing all semester was a beautiful, satisfying moment. I was proud of us for all the hard work that we've put in." Both Dominguez and French are excited to bring that excitement for mariachi to the valley.  

Mariachi Osos del Valle is delighted to host the newest venue in the Valley for mariachi ensembles to display their artistry and share their passion with the community. “Phoenix College’s Mariachi Festival is the only one in Arizona that celebrates Mariachi and Ballet Folklorico in a non-competitive event and gives students from elementary school to college graduates the opportunity to perform on the same stage," said French. "Music is a tool that can unite people – it surpasses language and borders and celebrates a beautiful cultural heritage."

Proceeds from the event support Phoenix College music students.

Saturday, April 20, 2024 / Phoenix College Mariachi Festival

Bulpitt Auditorium | 1202 W. Thomas Road | Phoenix | AZ | 85012

• 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. | Food Trucks and Artisan Market | open to the public

• 7:00 – 7:30 p.m. | Bulpitt Auditorium Doors Open | Purchase tickets

• 7:30 – 9:00 p.m. | Mariachi Performances

About the Emcee, Diego Verdugo

Diego Verdugo is a first-generation, bicultural, and bilingual immigrant from Sonora, Mexico. As a financial professional with Principal since 2012, Diego provides holistic guidance to families, professionals, and non-profits and businesses looking to grow and operate more efficiently. Diego is actively involved in several community organizations, including Junior Achievement of Arizona, the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA), Los Caballeros, and the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He is an advocate for financial literacy, focusing on closing the financial knowledge and wealth gaps in underrepresented and low-income communities. Diego lives in South Phoenix with his wife and two daughters. He holds a B.A. degree in Economics/Business and Spanish language from Cornell College, is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, and is currently pursuing a master’s in science degree in Personal Financial Planning.

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Phoenix College is the flagship of the Maricopa County Community College District, one of the largest community college districts in the nation. Established in 1920, PC offers academic courses leading to associate degrees, university transfers, certificates, and short-term job training.

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Media Contact: Christy Flora, Manager of Public Relations and Marketing, / 602-920-8458 /