Valerie Vargas is the founder and director of Mariachi Las Alteñas. Valerie’s passion for mariachi music started at an early age. Inspired by her parents she joined her 5th grade strings program where she began learning how to play violin. She continued to be a part of the orchestra in middle school, high school and throughout college. When she was 13, Valerie joined a church mariachi & folklorico program where she began to embrace her culture and passion for the music. She did not know how to speak Spanish at the time, but was drawn to the music her parents listened to in her youth. A year later at the age of 14, Valerie began playing professionally with a local female mariachi group. At that time only two female mariachi groups existed in San Antonio. After playing professionally for 5 years and at the tender age of 18, she decided to start her own group and Mariachi Las Alteñas was born. Under her vision and leadership, the group has performed in 16 different states throughout the US and many prestigious venues and stages, and the core group of ladies has remained largely the same. As her faith has always played a major role in her life, she has also had the honor to use her God given talents to give back through worship at her church. Valerie also holds a bachelors degree in Business from the University of Texas at San Antonio and hopes to one day pursue her masters degree in leadership studies. Aside from directing Las Alteñas, Valerie works a full time job as an Account Manager for a nationwide surveillance company.
Angela Campos was born and raised in San Antonio, TX and graduated from Madison high school in 2002. In 2003 she joined Las Alteñas as a lead violinist and vocalist for the group. Angie recently took on the role as the Musical Director for Las Alteñas, making her it's first female musical director. Angie has a Bachelors degree in Music Education as well as a Mariachi certificate from Texas State University and Masters degree in Educational Administration and Policy Studies from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Angie celebrates many accomplishments in her music career and continues to set the example as a leader. She started the first mariachi program in the North East school district while she was the orchestra director for Wood middle school and is the Mariachi Director for McNair Middle School. She and her husband Cirilo have their own business providing mariachi classes to all ages to include mariachi culture, music theory, and performance. SAMA or the San Antonio Mariachi Academy is one of the first in the city to provide these services to the community. They are also the proud parents of Angel, Mauricio, Carlo, and Manolo.
Carla Medina Ramirez celebrates 14 years as a vocalist/violinist with Mariachi Las Alteñas. A native of Seguin, she got her start in mariachi through a community program her senior year. After graduation, she immersed herself into the renowned mariachi program at the University of Texas Pan American, now UTRGV. During her time at UT-Pan Am, she won the University Level Vocal Competition at the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza and the Masters Division at Noche de Gala. It was after performing onstage at the Vargas Extravaganza that she was asked to audition for Alteñas, and the rest is history. Somehow during her time in the group, she was given the nickname “La Voz de Oro”, although she feels the group is full of “Voces de Oro!” She was tapped to become the associate director at Irving Middle School and loved her time there. She is now one of the mariachi directors at the non-profit organization Teatro de Artes de Juan Seguin, where she first got her start in mariachi. She is a licensed REALTOR®️ at Trinidad Realty Partners and above all, a mother to the loves of her life, her children: Alexander, 9 and Scarlett, 3.
Sandra Gonzalez has been a part of mariachi since age 10. She was born and raised in SA and started playing violin at age 8. She started with orchestra. Then with her parent’s influence began her mariachi adventure with Harlandale ISD, then her father’s group Mariachi Tapatio and finally Mariachi Nacional. During this time she was blessed to be part of YOSA's philharmonic orchestra for their first ever trip to Europe. With the support and income of mariachi she completed her Bachelors of Science Degree in Nursing and has been a neonatal and women’s health nurse for over 20 years. Sandra takes great pride in her nursing profession but is ever grateful that mariachi music is what took her to performances all over the country with Mariachi Nacional, Campanas de America and now MLA. She has accompanied amazing artists and has shared the stage with Mariachi Cobre, Mariachi Mujer 2000, Mariachi Divas, Mariachi Sol de Mexico and Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan. Plus she has performed at the White House, the Kennedy Center and the Hollywood Bowl to name a few. Sandra started MLA with a small family of her own and has loved witnessing her Alteña sisters grow their own family and careers. She and husband Pete have two busy daughters age 12 and 8 that are very involved in sports and of course, music!
CELESTE RIOS VILLARREAL
Celeste Rios was born and raised in Eagle Pass, TX. As one of the newest members of Mariachi Las Alteñas, Celeste's vocal talent and stage presence is a positive addition to the group. Her journey with mariachi music began after being influenced by her grandfather at the age of 13 to join her middle school mariachi program. Celeste has a Bachelors degree in Spanish with a minor in music from Texas State University. Throughout college she performed with the Texas State Mariachi as well as Salsa Del Rio which is the University's very own salsa band. In 2011, Celeste competed in the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza where she won 1st place in the college category as well as earning the title "Best in the US" which allowed her to open up for Mariachi Vargas. She currently works as an elementary music teacher for KIPP Un Mundo Dual Language Academy in San Antonio, TX and recently started the school’s first choir. Her musical inspiration is her grandfather and her husband who also share the love and passion of music.
Vanessa Moreno was born June 7, 1986 in San Antonio, TX. She was introduced to mariachi music by her parents and has been playing vihuela since the age of 6. She started playing with the Wesley Community mariachi program back in 1992 and then moved to the Harlandale ISD mariachi where she remained a part of that program until her senior year of 2004. Vanessa graduated from McCollum High School on the city's south side and has a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish with a minor in music and a mariachi certificate from Texas State University. During her time at Texas State she performed with award winning Mariachi Nueva Generacion. In 2010, she competed at the national Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza Vocal competition and received 1st place in the university category. And in 2012, she traveled with the university group to South America where she had the opportunity to perform for a live audience in Santiago, Chile. Vanessa is also a featured vocalist in Las Alteñas and is the spokesperson for the group during performances. She has a way with the audience that leaves people smiling and wanting more. Vanessa is known for her skills on the vihuela and has been given the nickname "manita de oro." She is currently the Mariachi Teacher at Hawthorne Academy and will be the new Mariachi Teacher at Edison High School starting August 2018. She has been married for over 5 years and recently Vanessa and her partner became mothers to a beautiful baby girl named Mia on February 2018. Vanessa is a founding member of Mariachi Las Alteñas and will be celebrating 17 years with the group in May of 2019!
Josephine Garcia joined Mariachi Las Alteñas in 2011. Her role as the group’s guitarronista is very important, as she is the heartbeat of the ensemble. Her talent and skill as a musician don’t stop there. Josie is also a vocalist, guitar, and vihuela player. Her passion for mariachi music comes from generations of musicians within her family in Guanajuato who also play mariachi and other genres of music. Her father, who plays accordion, had the brilliant idea to register Josie and her siblings in the Harlandale ISD mariachi program. Josie started playing mariachi in the 4th grade. By the age of 13, her journey towards the professional world of mariachi began as she and her sisters formed a group with other friends from the Harlandale mariachi program. She acquired experience while playing in multiple groups until she joined the Alteña family. Aside from Josie’s passion for mariachi music, she holds a full-time job as a school counselor in the Somerset Independent School District, where she has been working since 2015. She is currently pursuing her LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) certification and hopes to continue working with children in a different capacity. Prior to this, she taught in Harlandale ISD at the elementary level for 6 years. Josie graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies in 2009 and a Master of Arts in Counseling and Guidance in 2014 from Texas A&M University- San Antonio. She hopes to pursue a PhD one day, but for now she is enjoying what she has accomplished
Donna Chavez is 17 years old and was born and raised in San Antonio TX. She began playing the guitar classically at 8yrs old. Surprisingly mariachi music wasn't something she took an interest in until she joined the Irving mariachi program under the direction of Cirilo Campos and tenure member of Alteñas Carla Medina. She currently also plays with the mariachi at Brackenridge High School. Donna came highly recommended to Las Alteñas and has since demonstrated talent and work ethic beyond her years. Donna is also a vocalist with Las Alteñas. We are excited to see her continue to grow and succeed in her musical endeavors.
CLAUDIA RENEE GONZALEZ
Claudia Renee Gonzalez was born in Oakland, California and lived on a military base near Fresno, California most of her life. She began playing trumpet at the age of 10 at the Kings Cultural Center where she had been in ballet folklorico for many years. Claudia later worked at the center teaching beginners how to play and read music. Before moving to Texas, she played mariachi professionally with her siblings in California. Her family has always played a big role as her inspiration and support in pursuing her passion for mariachi music. At the young age of 18, Claudia moved to San Antonio to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio. Soon after moving to San Antonio, Claudia became a member of Las Alteñas and is now going on 4 years with the group. Claudia is currently working towards a bachelor degree in Music Composition with a minor in Music Technology. Aside from performing with Las Alteñas and working on her degree, Claudia also teaches at an after school music program and is in the process of forming a Mariachi Student Organization at UTSA.
BOBBIE SUE GARCIA
Bobbie Sue Garcia was born and raised in San Antonio, TX. She began playing the trumpet her 6th grade year in the middle school band. Her 8th grade year, she was introduced to mariachi music by her neighbor who played in a local mariachi group and she quickly fell in love with the style of music. Soon after, she joined her first mariachi group and began playing professionally at the age of 14. Bobbie is one of the original members of Mariachi Las Alteñas which formed her senior year of high school. She has performed with several groups in San Antonio, as well as the prestigious Mariachi Mujer 2000 from California who find select musicians across the country for concert performances. She has traveled all over the country performing and has been as far as South Korea. Bobbie's passion for mariachi music doesn't stop at her performances. She has a love for teaching mariachi music to young students as well. She currently works as a mariachi tutor at McNair Middle School, San Antonio Mariachi Academy and provides private lessons for student all over the city. Bobbie is known for her full mariachi sound. Her powerhouse trumpet playing will surely leave you impressed after each performance.