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The award-winning high school ensemble keeps the mariachi tradition alive.

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Houston, Texas – Mariachi is more than music. For the 25 young performers of Kinder HSPVA’s Mariachi Los Pasajeros, it’s a way of life – and a tradition that transcends generations.

The mariachi experience did not start in the classroom for most of them. Many students learned to play at home, embracing the music their parents and grandparents grew up with.

Mariachi Los Pasajeros is known for one of the best mariachi programs in the state, winning top honors at the Texas UIL State Mariachi Festival. The set earned a top Division 1 score, which is the highest possible score. They are the only group from Houston to earn this honor.

The ensemble is made up of 25 musicians, playing guitar, guitar, trumpet, violin, vihuelas and harp. They occur frequently across town at places like the Houston Public Library and at local schools.

“They know it makes a difference in people. They know it really emboldens one side of the soul of the audience,” said director Antonio Roca. “Every time I hear them and just see the audience reaction and they connect with them, I’m the most proud in the world.”

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Cnn