The summer of 2013 marked the establishment of the first annual Longhorn Mariachi Camp at The University of Texas at Austin’s Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music. This was also the first time the college had reached out to the Hispanic community of Texas in such a culturally relevant way.
Now in its fifth year, The University of Texas at Austin Longhorn Mariachi Camp aims to make high students aware of the opportunities available to them at the university and encourage them to enroll upon graduation. The camp also seeks to give students a rich musical experience marked by excellence, connect them with other students interested in mariachi music from across the state, and provide an understanding of what it takes to be a member of a mariachi ensemble.
A total of 73 students registered and went through the enriching program in 2016. During the four-day camp, students experience small group training on their primary instruments and vocals taught by mariachi directors from Texas school districts and universities throughout Texas. They also receive guidance in performing as a large group through preparation for an end-of-camp concert featuring every student and their instructors.
The camp provides an opportunity for students to reside in a campus dormitory, allowing them to experience life at The University of Texas at Austin. They explore campus after the instructional day is over by visiting the Student Union, the Main Tower and other points of interest on campus. Campers also take a trip to the State Capitol to view and learn about the Tejano Monument.
In previous years, the university was able to provide school districts with matching scholarships for every student enrolled in the camp. This year, however, this benefit is going away due to accounting complications.
“Every year we hear from potential campers who would love to attend and benefit immensely from our program but do not have the financial means to do so,” said The University of Texas’ Mariachi Ensemble Director Zeke Castro, has been instrumental in the creation and realization of the summer camp.
The Longhorn Mariachi Camp needs the support of businesses and individuals who desire to enrich the lives of deserving young musicians who might not otherwise be able to attend such program.
Friends of the UT Austin Longhorn Mariachi Camp may sponsor a student for $300 this summer. This includes four days of intensive instruction and room and board in a dorm campus for a Texas high school student. Supporters who wish to give scholarships may designate them for a specific school or school district and make payments directly to UT as part of the fee payment process.
“In contrast to prior camps, many at-risk students and low socio-economic school districts may encounter registration difficulties without the opportunity to receive a scholarship for each student registered in 2017,” Castro expressed. “We’re calling on our community to support students who long to be part of a unique and culturally relevant music experience as well as experiencing the longhorn life.”
The public is also invited to witness the campers’ success at the culminating performance on Saturday, Jul. 1, 1:30 p.m, at the Bates Concert Hall in the Butler School of Music. The performance is free and open to the public.