by Photo by Guillermo Mijares

From performing Selena’s classic “Si una vez” to Linda’s Ronstadt’s “Los Laureles”, the Southwestern College beginner and intermediate mariachi band puts on a show to remember in front of a local audience. 

On Wednesday night, the SWC beginner and intermediate mariachi band held a free special event performance at the school’s Performing and Arts center, providing a joyful show for mariachi fans in attendance. 

Aidee Araiza Gonzalez was in the audience Wednesday night, where she was there supporting her husband, who was one of the trumpet players that performed at the event. Aidee says that this was a fresh experience because of the new performance arts center at SWC.  

”It was an amazing time tonight, I always try to attend all the concerts my husband plays in,” Aidee said. “Also, I really like the new building they built for events like this, this was a completely new experience,” Gonzalez said. 

One of the members on stage Wednesday night was Reimer Alatorre, who played the Vihuela at the event, and he says that this is an experience he will never forget. Reimer is a first semester freshman at SWC, making this night his first live concert he has ever been a part of.  

“I’m not going to lie, I was nervous tonight, but in the end it paid off and I loved every bit of being able to play the genre that I love the most in front of that audience,” Alatorre said. 

The first semester freshman says that he comes from a family of musicians, and he is proud to follow the footsteps of his loved ones.  

His most memorable moment from the night was performing “Un poco loco”, a famous soundtrack from Disney’s popular animated film “Coco.” The song includes a solo moment from Reimer’s vihuela, where he had an instrumental spotlight during the song. 

“I had a solo in that song, it’s a little complicated to play, but nonetheless I pulled it off,” Reimer proudly added.  

The group consisted of different levels of experience within the band. From current students at SWC, to former students that went on to transfer to universities, and non-student mariachi players who enjoy performing for fun. The band had players from different backgrounds. 

One of the performers with many years of experience is Victor Viberos, a former student at SWC, who later went on to receive his Bachelor’s of Music Education from San Diego State University after graduating from SWC.  

Viberos has years of experience playing the guitar since he was just 11 years old, and went on to gain experience in other instruments such as the trumpet, vihuela, and the guitarron, all at the professional level. 

However, Viberos faced a challenge he hadn’t experienced on Wednesday night, a challenge he fully embraced throughout the event. Victor played the violin instrument in front of a live audience for the first time in his career.  

The 27-year-old says that this transition is no different from the other transitions he’s made before involving other instruments, but that it did challenge his patience considering the difficulty of the violin. 

“Playing violin has definitely challenged my patience, and kept me hungry for learning more about this difficult instrument.” Viberos said.  

During the preparation leading up to this event, Viberos practiced alongside musicians with much less experience than him, which is something that he always finds as a fun challenge. 

“I always look forward to a situation like this because it gives me a chance to share my knowledge with them,” Viberos said. “I hope to be able to teach mariachi music to students of local high schools once I receive my teaching credentials,” he added.  

This event was the first mariachi concert Southwestern College has held since COVID restrictions took effect in early 2020, making Wednesday night a highly-anticipated night for SWC’s mariachi band. 

The show was directed by Elizabeth Howard and Carlos Castaneda, who are both mariachi teachers at Southwestern College in Chula Vista.

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