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Mariachi Vargas, a Mexican folk music ensemble created by Gaspar Vargas back in 1897, has produced more than 50 recordings, including waltzes, polkas, popurris, huapangos, cumbias and other forms of mariachi music. Mariachi Vargas ticket holders enjoy both traditional Mariachi music from the band's early days, as well as a more modern take on this classic Mexican art form.
The original 1897 group consisted of a mariachera (guitarra de golpa) played by Gaspar Vargas, a wooden harp played by Manuel Mendoza and two violins played by Refugio Hernandez and Lino Quintero. Today, the Mariachi Vargas ensemble is made up of 13 members.
The history of Mariachi Vargas can be divided into the following five generations: 1897-1930, 1931-1949, 1950-1993, 1994-2002 and 2003-present. Among the many milestones are Gaspar Vargas turning over leadership to his son, Silvestre Vargas, in 1931; the taking over of the groups musical direction by classical violinist, Ruben Fuentas, who joined the group in 1944; and a Grammy award for the 1986 album by singer Linda Ronstadt, Canciones de mi Padre, which featured Mariachi Vargas.
Along with the Linda Ronstadt album, Canciones de mi Padre, which resulted in a Grammy Award and a world tour, Mariachi Vargas has produced more than 50 albums. Best Of, released in 2004, reached No. 15 on the Latin Music charts. El Mejor Mariachi Del Mundo also hit No. 5 on the Latin Music charts.
The 1970s saw a resurgence in Mariachi interest thanks to the first Mariachi conference held in 1979 in San Antonio, Texas. In 1983, Mariachi Vargas headlined for the first time at the Tucson International Mariachi Conference. In 1989, Mariachi Vargas recorded their En Concierto album, which is still considered one of the greatest classical music compilations ever performed by a Mariachi band. In 1997, Mariachi Vargas celebrated its 100th anniversary as a musical ensemble. They began their fifth generation of recordings and concerts in 2003 and are currently composed of two harps, one vihuela, six violins, two trumpets and one guitarron. The added instruments give Mariachi Vargas a more modern sound while maintaining the purity of the Mariachi style that has made them famous. Their fifth-generation ensemble has recorded two albums, Penas, Desenga̱os Y Amores (2004) and Y aqu�_ estamos (2008).