ELOY — Santa Cruz Valley Union High School founded its mariachi band in 1995 with current Eloy Junior High Director Germain Corriero and Ramon Acuna.
In 2008 current band Director Joshua White took over. Initially White took over the mariachi band because it was part of the three ensembles listed in the job description.
White had some previous experience with mariachi music, having worked with bands in New Mexico, but he was also involved in the early stages at Santa Cruz when he was a student.
White added that the mariachi band has been well received since it began, however it’s really taken off in the past couple of years as more people have grown familiar with the band.
“Our opportunity has increased in the last few years due to increased word-of-mouth from events we have performed,” White said. “We have been more popular in neighboring communities over the last few years.”
With the school year starting in August, there isn’t much time to prepare for the group’s first performance at the beginning of September.
“The songs are largely based on the group I have for the year and how quickly we can get songs put together,” White said. “That usually is our first performance. Over the years the group has got better to where we’re able to do more at that performance.”
The Fiestas Patrias is a tradition for Eloy families, it’s something that has been instilled in the culture just like mariachi music has been for many generations for those of Hispanic descent.
“They’re familiar with the songs from their families, from their grandparents, and the tradition is carried on,” White said of the kids in the mariachi band. “They really appreciate the ability to play it and the songs are fun. There’s a style to it, people say all mariachi music sounds the same, but there’s a different style.”
The mariachi’s performance at the Fiestas Patrias usually includes songs such as “La Culebra” and “Las Chapanecas.”
SCVUHS will not be the only mariachi band at the Fiestas Patrias, with Mariachi Azteca de Oro, Mariachi Apache and Mariachi Nueva Era de Casa Grande also performing.
“I am sure they feel slightly intimidated, but the audience is very supportive” White said. “Plus, smaller audiences are often more intimidating because the people pay closer attention to what we do.”