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Culture and confidence collide in LEE’s Mariachi Unido Ensemble

Legacy of Educational Excellence (LEE) High School is a land of great opportunity. The Mariachi Unido Ensemble exemplifies that. The group was formed in 2018 under the direction of Mario Prado, although he’s the first to say this is a student-led ensemble where confidence and culture collide.

“It’s very important to learn about the Hispanic culture and we learn a lot about the past,” said sophomore Malina Ponce. “Performing in front of people has helped me with my confidence a lot.”

LEE’s Mariachi Unido Ensemble started as an extracurricular activity and has since grown in popularity and reputation every year. It’s so popular it’s now a class period where LEE, STEM Academy, NESA and International School of the Americas (ISA) students come together to celebrate a shared passion.

“I wanted to join mariachi so I could play outside of classical music and I could connect more with my family and culture,” said senior Adriana Cortes. “I think it’s important to know where you come from and also to celebrate different cultures because we don’t want history or our past to get erased. It’s up to the future generations to continue to tell the story of our ancestors.”

There’s no shortage of opportunities for this talented group. They’ve been invited to perform at events across San Antonio and each gig is an opportunity to refine their skills and break out of their shell. More than likely, you’ll hear senior Aldair Villicana share his incredible voice and talents on the guitar. He credits Prado with getting him involved in the ensemble.

“I came to one of the practices and I just fell in love with it. He’s my favorite teacher,” said Villicana. “It opens up so much culture and it lets you get bits and pieces of everything. Learning new pieces is difficult but once you get it, it’s like, ‘yes!’ It’s a really fun class.”

Click here to learn more about the opportunities available in NEISD Fine Arts.

LEE’s Mariachi Unido Ensemble   Aldair Villicana plays the guitar

Posted by Lila Stanley
Posted on 9-28-21