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Rosendo Ramos brings mariachi to Angelo State

“It’s just all about emotion. In any music, you know it’s powerful when you can sense something beyond any language or anything."

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Rosendo Ramos will be a very busy man in a couple months. Well, even busier than usual.

Not only is he about to begin his 10th year as mariachi director for Lake View High School and Lincoln Middle School, he’s currently nailing down the details of starting a new ensemble, Mariachi Los Pastores, at Angelo State University.

“[College of Arts and Humanities Dean] Dr. Klingemann approached me back in January and we started talking it through. They really wanted something new for the students here with a little more diversity,” Ramos said. “And ASU is my alma mater and I’m very proud to be a graduate of ASU. So I’d love to give back.”

Ramos has been working to spread the joy of mariachi music across West Texas for more than a decade now.

In 2010, when Ramos was attending ASU, he started a student club centered around the music that’s been so important to him his whole life.

In 2022, he’ll finally get to continue what he started at ASU, only this time as an instructor. 

“The program is gonna start in August. It might start out a little small, but we’re gonna try our best to get as many students as we can, then hopefully it’s something that we can continue to feed from Lake View and the surrounding areas. I have several friends and colleagues that work in Odessa that teach mariachi, and that work in Del Rio that teach mariachi, so we’re hoping to eventually pull from those cities and bring students here to this program.”

It's also a good chance to help some of his graduating Lake View seniors continue their musical education here in San Angelo at a college level, whereas pursuing mariachi before this program might have involved a move to San Antonio or San Marcos.

“As of right now, we have about four recruits from Lake View coming in, and I think this is gonna be a great path for those students to come up to Angelo State and stay here locally then and they’ll offer their talents here,“ Ramos said.

His goal is to eventually offer ASU students the ability earn a music degree with an emphasis on mariachi, although music students of any background are welcome to join. 

"Just any kind of musical background. Even if they don’t play [mariachi], we’re more than happy to have them come in so they can enjoy the culture. This is also not just about music, it's about the culture, and I feel like once they learn a little bit more about that, they'll appreciate it more and it's gonna be a great time," Ramos said. "I mean mariachi music is one of the liveliest kinds of music there is in the world, and I would love for people to be able to enjoy that, even if they play band or orchestra or choir, it’s a great experience.”

Ramos said he looks forward to sharing that experience with musicians from different cultures ready to expand their musical palette.

“That’s what America is, it’s a bunch of cultures coming together. That’s the beauty of it. And I’m very proud of it. I’m very proud the music and how far it has come, especially here in Texas.”

The origins of mariachi music go back to the 1700s, and for Ramos, back three generations.

“My grandfather was a mariachi musician, my father was a mariachi musician, my uncles are still mariachi musicians. That is their day-to-day job in Mexico, that’s what they do for a living. And I have six brothers and we’re all musicians as well,” Ramos said. “We all learned at a very young age, we listened to the music of our uncles and our father. It’s part of our culture. It’s something that we enjoy very much and we take very seriously.”

Ramos said one thing remains a constant in the music he tries to teach: emotion.

“It’s just all about emotion. In any music, you know it’s powerful when you can sense something beyond any language or anything. You feel the emotion, you see the emotion. It just makes you feel a little bit different. I mean, that’s what we all try to achieve, especially in music.”

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