Young mariachis learn from Grammy-nominated musicians at UNT Mariachi Aguilitas Summer Camp

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 - 20:04

Watch video of previous camps here and here.


DENTON, Texas (UNT) – The internationally-renowned Mariachi Sol de Mexico — a Grammy-nominated ensemble —  will be the headline performer of the University of North Texas Mariachi Aguilitas Summer Camp, an annual week-long workshop that teaches musical skills to middle school and high school mariachi players. Camp participants will have the chance to perform with Mariachi Sol de Mexico on one song during the group's first ever concert at UNT, which will open with a performance by Denton-based professional mariachi ensemble Mariachi Quetzal.

The concert with Mariachi Sol de Mexico takes place at 7 p.m. July 26 (Saturday) in the UNT Murchison Performing Arts Center, located at 2100 N. I-35E in Denton, and is funded in part by the Mary Jo and V. Lane Rawlins Fine Arts Series. A special VIP reception with the members of Mariachi Sol de Mexico takes place prior to the concert at 6 p.m. For ticket information, call the box office at 940-369-7802 or visit the center's website at The Mariachi Sol de Mexico performance follows the campers' free, public concert at 1:30 p.m., also on July 26 (Saturday) in the UNT Murchison Performing Arts Center.

Both events will be the culmination of four days of instruction, rehearsals and jam sessions at the UNT Mariachi Camp, which runs July 22 – 26 (Tuesday – Saturday). The founder of Mariachi Sol de Mexico, Jóse Hernàndez, will also serve on the camp’s faculty for the week — his fifth year as guest instructor.  Along with other teachers, including members of UNT's mariachi ensemble Mariachi Águilas, he will help the dozens of aspiring musicians work on traditional mariachi skills, including singing and playing the guitarron, trumpet, guitar, vihuela and violin.

But camp organizer Donna Emmanuel said the aguilitas, or "little eagles," learn more than music.

"The campers really value coming together with other students to share their love for mariachi, to make new friends and to study with renowned experts, all while experiencing a college environment," said Emmanuel, a UNT professor of music education.

While the campers come from a variety of backgrounds, Donna noted that for a few attendees each year, this camp is the first time they have been on a university campus.

"Some of our campers come from families where no one in their family has gone to college," said Emmanuel. She added that roughly 30 first-generation students have enrolled at UNT since the camp began.

Throughout the week, workshop sessions are held in classrooms in the UNT Music Building, located at 415 S. Avenue C in Denton. Campers also spend time in UNT residence and dining halls. Additionally, Emmanuel tries to make sure information about college is readily available and that the students are introduced to processes such as admissions, financial aid and on-campus housing.

The Mariachi Aguilitas Summer Camp has grown every year since it first began in 2008 as a limited-enrollment, pilot program with 25 campers. Since then, additional days have been added. Enrollment doubled each year until it reached 120 students. It is now capped at 100 attendees, with students coming from across the United States.


Mariachi Aguilitas Summer Camp

  • When/Where: July 22 – 26 (Tuesday – Saturday) in the UNT Music Building.
  • Register:The cost is $300. Get an informational flyer and registration forms. (Scroll down to “mariachi summer camp.”)
  • Contact: Donna Emmanuel at 940-369-7973 or
  • Free, Public Camp Concert: 1:30 p.m. July 26 (Saturday) in theUNT Murchison Performing Arts Center. Tickets are not required.


Mariachi Sol de Mexico Concert

  • When/Where: 7 p.m. July 26 (Saturday) in the UNT Murchison Performing Arts Center.
  • Tickets: $15 for general admission, $10 for UNT faculty, staff and alumni; $5 for ages 8 to 18; and free for children under age 8, UNT students and for the UNT mariachi campers. For ticket information, call the box office at 940-369-7802 or visit the center's website at
  • 6 p.m. VIP Reception Tickets: $75 (includes premium seating for the concert)
  • Proceeds from the concert will go toward scholarships for UNT mariachi students and for future campers.


About Mariachi Sol de Mexico and Jóse Hernàndez

Mariachi Sol de Mexico, established by Jose Hernandez in 1981, is one of the world’s leading mariachi ensembles. The group has recorded 15 albums, three of which earned Grammy nominations, and has performed orchestral mariachi arrangements by Hernàndez with the San Francisco Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and others. Mariachi Sol de Mexico has performed for four U.S. presidents including performances at the White House.  Jóse Hernàndez is an internationally recognized musician, composer and educator, with a passion for educating the next generation of mariachi musicians. A fifth-generation mariachi musician born in Mexico, he founded both Mariachi Sol de Mexico and Reyna de Los Angeles, the first all-female professional mariachi ensemble in the United States.


About the UNT College of Music

The UNT College of Music is one of the largest and most respected comprehensive music schools in the country. More than 1,600 music students attend UNT each year, participating in more than 50 widely varied ensembles and pursuing specialized studies in performance, composition, music education or music scholarship. UNT faculty members and students have made appearances on the world’s finest stages and have produced numerous recordings, many receiving Grammy awards and nominations. Distinguished UNT alumni can be found around the globe, in top music ensembles, opera companies, universities and schools.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

Media Contacts:

Monique Bird
(940) 369-7782