SAC Mariachis Win Top Honors in Albuquerque

August 6, 2019

Russell Guerrero - Strategic Communications Coordinator

San Antonio College’s (SAC) mariachi group, Mariachi Estrellas del Alamo, won top honors at the annual Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque, a three-day conference and competition held in New Mexico. This is the second year in a row the 16-piece ensemble has won first place in the College/University category.

The Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque Showcase Competition Concert provides an opportunity for musicians from around the country to perform. The conference is one of the biggest in the nation along with the Mariachi Vargas conference in San Antonio.

Alicia Covarrubias has been the director of the SAC mariachi group since it began three years ago. She said three new members joined in May and the group spent the next few weeks practicing for the competition.

The student musicians came up with the concept to perform a potpourri of music made famous by legendary Mexican singer Vicente Fernandez.

“They wanted to try something different. They wanted to experiment,” recalled Covarrubias, about the students’ musical choice. Once they performed it for her, she was sold on the idea. “Guys, this is awesome!” she told the students.

During the competition, the SAC mariachis performed their tribute to Fernandez by playing “El Ranchero,” “El Arracadas,” “A Pesar de Todo,” and “Puro Michoacán.”

The SAC mariachi performance caught people by surprise. Covarrubias said she watched the judges during the music. “I could tell they were enjoying the style. Sometimes when it comes to competitions, musicians want to do flashy stuff. I could tell they really appreciated our classic mariachi sound.”

The mariachis took the College/University category and were also awarded second place in the overall category.

The competition capped off several days attending workshops to learn techniques to performing mariachi music. Some of the students were able to attend masterclasses given by maestros in the field. After the workshops, everyone would get together for a jam session and even Covarrubias was able to join in and play her violin.

With the school year beginning soon, Covarrubias said she will be holding auditions for new members on from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19, in the McAllister Fine Arts Center Band Hall . To contact her, visit the SAC mariachi Facebook page at