Traditions begin and grow with the people, and we're proud to say that many of our people come from the tradition. With top music educators and award-winning mariachi artists, West Music Mariachi brings together the resources and expertise you need to not only equip and educate your students, but to inspire them with the passion expressed by these dedicated professionals.
Soon after California native Jonathan Clark first heard mariachi music as a college student in the mid-1970s, it became his passion, and he began his lifelong study of that genre. Two years later, in 1977, he moved to Mexico City. There, he was befriended and mentored by members of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, and he spent the next twelve years playing guitarrón with mariachis in and around Plaza Garibaldi. After meeting the legendary Silvestre Vargas in 1979, Clark embarked upon a serious study of the history of mariachi music, collecting as much information and interviewing as many of the musicians who forged the tradition as he could.
In 1991, Clark returned to California, where he began lecturing and writing articles on mariachi history. He founded and directed the San José State University Mariachi Workshop, and later directed the mariachi program at Stanford University. In 1997, he cofounded Mexico's first mariachi museum, the Museo Silvestre Vargas, in Tecalitlán, Jalisco. His publications include entries in The Latino Encyclopedia and the Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, and liner notes for the Arhoolie CD series Mexico's Pioneer Mariachis. His literary collaborations include Agustín Gurza's award-winning The Strachwitz Frontera Collection of Mexican and Mexican American Recordings, and mariachi legend Miguel Martínez's autobiographical Mi Vida, Mis Viajes, Mis Vivencias. In 2013, he received the Presea Vicente T. Mendoza, the highest award the Mexican government confers for documentation and analysis of traditional Mexican music.
Dr. Donna Emmanuel came to higher education via the worlds of public school teaching, sales, marketing and public relations. Born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, living on the Florida Gulf Coast for most of her life, and moving to Texas from Michigan, Donna has a rich and varied background that has helped to form her philosophy, impact her teaching and scholarship, and drives her passion for service. She initially majored in piano performance and received an undergraduate degree in Humanities Interdisciplinary (music, English and communication arts), minoring in psychology. Her graduate degrees in Music Education from the University of Michigan and Michigan State included related fields in voice, educational psychology and ethnomusicology. She has a passion for mariachi, having performed in one at Michigan and having traveled to many locations in Mexico where she fell in love with the music, people, and culture. In 2003, she founded the first mariachi program at the University of North Texas. This has expanded into a highly developed form of community engagement that includes the only mariachi summer camp of its kind in the country. This camp brings together middle and high school students, university students, area mariachi directors, and guests from across the country, including Manuel Delgado and Maestro José Hernández of Mariachi Sol de México.
Donna's areas of scholarly interest include cultural competence, philosophies of music education, community engagement, urban teaching and learning, and Hispanic issues. Her interest in community engagement has been demonstrated by her involvement with the College Music Society, having served as Chair of the National Committee for Community Engagement. She organized and hosted a national summit on community engagement for this organization and continues to serve on the committee.
Her growing reputation in this field has been recognized by the University of North Texas as she was appointed by President Lane Rawlins to serve on the President's Council on Community Engagement. Her work on this council resulted in her appointment as Director of Service Learning and Community Engagement for the Division of University and Community Relations.
José Hernández envisioned a mariachi ensemble to reflect the passion of the rich cultural heritage to which he belonged. Activating this vision would establish his expression to truly live as a link to the mariachi medium. When he created Mariachi Sol de México® in 1981, José prepared the way to set the Latin musical world afire with new original rhythms, sounds and ideas.
José's fluent mastery of the mariachi medium is unmistakably intense when it comes to expanding the boundaries of mariachi music. He has recorded with the most respected and recognized names in the industry, including José Feliciano, Selena, Vikki Carr, Willie Nelson, Linda Ronstadt, Juan Gabriel, Vicente Fernández, Luis Miguel, Guadalupe Pineda, The Beach Boys, Lola Beltrán, Rocío Dúrcal, Bryan Adams, Lucha Villa and more.
Pursuing compositions worthy of more appreciation for mariachi, José has enlightened audiences by producing rich, cultural performances world over. With an excellent knowledge of music history, José tantalizes his listeners with musical inspirations that ricochet from Leonard Bernstein to Agustín Lara, and Glenn Miller to José Alfredo Jiménez. When he performed for President Clinton in Washington D.C. for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, José Hernández again proved Mariachi Sol de México an international institution. This honor exemplifies Mariachi Sol de México as a traveling cultural icon that symbolizes eclectic musicianship and communal cross-generation joy.
José is also the musical director of the prestigious Las Vegas International Mariachi Festival with the 1999 performance at Mandalay Bay and the annual Viva El Mariachi concert held at the renowned Universal Amphitheater.
Perhaps one of José's gallant achievements, Maestro José Hernández has brought life to another passionate mariachi provision - symphonic compositions for mariachi. Establishing the Sol de México symphony orchestra has allowed thousands of mariachi lovers to become entranced by this full mariachi sound.
José's versatile talents have been expressed in performance from Puerto Rico to Hawaii, from Latin America to the most renowned venues in the world. The humble endeavor of José Hernández is to remain the voice and medium for mariachi; to reflect the treasured cultural heritage through the pages of mariachi; to express his soulful vision of mariachi without end; - this to José, is the Passion of Mariachi.
Roberto J. Martínez is currently a Cast Member at the Walt Disney World's Epcot Theme Park in Orlando, Florida. His position and role as a front-line musician with the worldwide renowned mariachi ensemble, Mariachi Cobre, has given him the opportunity to share Mexico's folkloric mariachi music to millions of guests from around the world. Since 1982, Roberto has provided the Walt Disney World's iconic "Guests' Magical Experiences" while performing at Epcot's México Pavilion and other Walt Disney World venues.
Roberto received a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education, B.A.E. degree from the University of Arizona in 1981. His Education Degree has allowed him to be actively involved in Mariachi Music Curriculum Development for Mariachi Conferences and Music Education Workshops throughout the United States. He has acted as an instructor, clinician, facilitator, administrator and consultant for these nationally acclaimed events. Roberto has had the opportunity to participate, as well as develop curriculum and specific music education workshops for individual private and public schools throughout Texas and the Southwest.
Roberto has been a member of Mariachi Cobre since 1978. Mariachi Cobre has had the opportunity to perform with orchestras and symphonies throughout the United States and Mexico as well as many Mariachi Festivals and Conferences for over 30 years. His mariachi roots date back to 1970 as a member of the Tucson, Arizona Community Youth Mariachi Group "Los Changuitos Feos de Tucson". While participating in this group, Roberto had the opportunity to build and nurture his relationship with his parents and immediate family by sharing Mexico's folkloric music, language, customs and culture. This youth mariachi organization had established a college scholarship fund, which was aimed at financially supporting a student's future college education. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity allowed him to enroll at the University of Arizona to pursue and complete his Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education degree. Roberto has become an advocate of music education, student musicians and their pursuit of higher education.
Well-known for her commitment to program expansion and innovation, Marcia Neel is recognized as a leader among her peers for her creative approaches to curriculum design and implementation. One of the most successful is the Clark County School District's standards-based Mariachi Program, which was instituted in 2002 with four instructors teaching 250 students and is now staffed by nineteen full-time licensed mariachi educators teaching over 3,000 students. Marcia is the lead author of ¡Simplemente Mariachi!, an instrumental and vocal method series for mariachi students and educators. Over the years, she has become a leader in assessment-driven curriculum for mariachi education. As a result of her National Mariachi Workshops for Educators® held annually in Las Vegas, she has been instrumental in starting or developing over 100 mariachi programs across the nation.
Marcia is an ardent Music Education advocate at the local, state, and national levels and serves on the Supportmusic.com Steering Committee. She has authored and edited an array of articles and publications for the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), School Band and Orchestra (SBO) Magazine, Strings Magazine, Parent Magazine and Leadership Magazine. Marcia and her husband, Keith, are honored to serve as Music Ambassadors to The Ohio State University School of Music.
Marcia serves as Educational Advisor to The Music Achievement Council, a 501(c)(6) non-profit corporation whose main focus is professional development for educators to reach and serve more music students. Her busy schedule has her providing motivating keynotes and workshops all across the country for educators looking to grow their programs and sharpen their pedagogical skills, thus helping their students achieve at a higher level.
Elected to numerous leadership positions, Marcia has served as Western Division President of MENC (now NAfME); President of the Nevada Music Educators Association (two separate terms); and President of the Nevada Choral Directors Association. She was appointed by two Nevada governors to sit on the Goals 2000 Panel and in that capacity, co-chaired the team responsible for the writing of Nevada's Content Standards in Arts Education. In 1993, The Disney Channel selected Marcia as their National Performing Arts Teacher of the Year.
Marcia is president of Music Education Consultants, Inc., a consortium of music education professionals working with a variety of educational organizations, arts associations, and school districts to foster the growth and breadth of school-based music education programs for all children. Among others, specialty areas include curriculum development and expansion, professional development, teacher induction programs, and the providing of conductors and adjudicators for honor ensembles and music festivals. She has taught and continues to teach graduate music courses at the Hartt School, Duquesne University, Villanova University and VanderCook College of Music.