Long Awaited Mariachi Cardenal Presents Debut Performance

October 27, 2023

UIW’s newest music ensemble, Mariachi Cardenal, played for an enthusiastic crowd of UIW and San Antonio community members at their debut concert on Wednesday, Oct. 25. The addition of the highly anticipated mariachi group has students, employees, alumni and more celebrating the ensemble’s arrival. The group’s director, John Lopez, is a San Antonio native, and saw the opportunity to lead Mariachi Cardenal as a chance to give back to the community he grew up in.

Mariachi Cardenal began in the spring of 2023 when a group of talented and passionate students met to rehearse the music they loved. Building on this enthusiasm, UIW employed retired professor John A. Lopez in the fall of 2023 to head the ensemble. Mr. Lopez brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to UIW after 28 years of service at Texas State University, where he created the Mariachi, Salsa, and Latin Music Studies area.

“Honestly, I was very excited and eager to start as soon as possible,” Lopez shared when asked what his reaction was to being invited to head the new ensemble. “I was looking forward to the musical potential of the ensemble and honored to be a part of its beginning.”

Despite being officially retired when he received the call, Lopez knew directing Mariachi Cardenal was an opportunity he couldn’t turn down. In addition to having heard amazing things about the UIW community, he knew this was his chance to share such a beautiful part of his culture with students in his hometown.

“I am originally from San Antonio,” he explained. “I graduated from Edison High School in 1984, so I always wanted to make it back one day. Even though I started the program at Texas State University and achieved many successes, I wanted to spread the knowledge and love of mariachi to as many other students as possible.”

And so, Mariachi Cardenal was formed. The ensemble now meets as a class during the regular school week, and its doors are open to music majors and students of other majors with mariachi experience, or some other form of musical background. At their first concert, Lopez invited local mariachi groups to join them on stage, including Mariachi Estrellas Del Alamo from San Antonio College and Mariachi Orgullo from Churchill High School, both groups which helped to officially welcome Mariachi Cardenal to San Antonio.

The UIW students who make up Mariachi Cardenal, and Lopez himself, were moved by the turnout and welcome they received at their debut concert.

“In all honesty, during all my time at other places, I have never received this much praise. During my 28 years of service [at my previous institution], the president of the university never attended one single performance, but our president was there this week,” Lopez said of UIW President Dr. Thomas Evans, who attended the concert with his wife, Mrs. Lisa Evans. “That meant a lot to me and the students.”

Beyond the praise and recognition, Lopez and Mariachi Cardenal share deeper goals for the group that align with the Mission of UIW.

“During this time in our country’s history, it has become a priority of mine to teach cultural understanding, tolerance, and respect,” he explained. “I hope we can do that through our music.”

Don’t miss Mariachi Cardenal’s next concert on November 29!