Viva Las Vegas! Mariachi Joya shines during Hispanic Heritage Month

Mariachi Joya from Las Vegas High School shares their vibrant sights and sounds in several performances to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month in the valley.
Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 10:33 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Mariachi Joya from Las Vegas High School shares their vibrant sights and sounds in several performances to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month in the valley.

Stephen Blanco founded the program in 2018. He was a teacher and eventually a band teacher at LVHS.

“Becoming a music teacher made sense because the music was a huge passion of mine and mariachi kind of found its way into the picture,” Blanco said.

He said the cultural connection they do every day is huge.

“The vocalist, and the mariachis and the singers that we study are people who their parents listen to or their grandparents so it’s super engrained into Hispanic culture and that really allows us to engage with our community even more than music already generally does,” Blanco said.

In 2021 the group performed for the inauguration ceremony of President Joe Biden virtually.

“The students really needed something to believe in and that project was a huge undertaking for us when we were all secluded at home and it really not only gave them something to look forward to but it made them feel heard, made them feel seen, as Latinos and as children made them feel our country’s leadership values them,” Blanco said.

Blanco said not all of his students speak Spanish. He said four languages are spoken in his program.

“We’re kind of a melting pot of students from everywhere and we’re able to come together and I think being a part of something bigger than yourself is important these days,” Blanco said.

Some of the students find comfort in the familiar melodies.

“It’s like music you can listen to at home, you know coming from a Mexican family you hear most of the music on the daily. So it’s kind of like, you’re listening to it, you’re playing it, so you kind of feel at home,” Axel Rodriguez said.

Jared Madina-Pascua is the student director.

“I play the violin, I’m in the front, I sing, I just like building a team, a family with everyone and just playing the music I love,” Madina-Pascua said.

Blanco designed their uniforms which were custom-made in Mexico.

“The mariachi uniform that you see called a traje de charro, is something that is very honorable to put on. Very honorable to wear,” Blanco said.

“You feel extremely prideful of the program, like the people in the program, the school and yeah it just gives you a sense of pride, Axel Rodriguez said.

Noemi Flores, an 11th grader, started the program when she was in sixth grade.

“I joined this program because they looked at each other as like family and I really like that from them,” Flores said.

“It’s the greatest gift part of it like I started off from the bottom just going up, seventh to where I am now to eleventh grade just making friends every year, building up like and I know like I can count on them even after when I graduate I know I can call out and reach them anytime,” Jared Madina-Pascua said.

Blanco said almost every show they perform is sold out. This year he was the winner of the 2022 Nevada Heart of Education Award. He was also a semifinalist for the prestigious Music Educator Award for the Grammy’s

“Just as much as my students are learning from me I’m learning from them every day as well,” Blanco said.

Mariachi Joya will perform live on FOX5 Friday morning.