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Trumpet and Tradition: Rosendo Ramos

August 30, 2010

Organizing a mariachi band on the Angelo State University campus was a cultural imperative and just came naturally for Rosendo Ramos.

The ASU senior music major’s family boasts three generations of mariachis, and he developed his own chops playing trumpet in mariachi bands at San Angelo Central High School and the former Edison Junior High School, now the Central Freshman Campus.

“My grandpa played with professional mariachis in Mexico,” Ramos said.  “He played with a lot of great artists and passed it on to my dad who comes from a family of 10 with five brothers who all play mariachi.”

Ramos also has two uncles who live in Mexico and play mariachi music professionally.

“They play at bars and make enough money to live off of,” he said.  “They also play for tips in Cuidad Acuna on a street that has many bars.  They have a repertoire of 250-300 songs and play all of them from memory.”

That background led Ramos to form Mariachi OroAzul (Blue and Gold) as an ASU student organization that debuted during ASU’s Rambunctious Weekend at the beginning of the fall 2010 semester.  He took up the mantle of leadership as president of the group along with Laura Lara, vice president, after former ASU student Victor Andrade laid the group’s foundation several years ago.

“Victor got it going,” Ramos said, “then Laura and I came back this spring and got everything together to get the organization started.”

Ramos hopes his group and the mariachi genre become popular enough on campus to eventually be incorporated into the Art and Music Department with a mariachi instructor.

“A lot of university mariachi bands in the San Antonio area started as student organizations that became a big part of their music departments,” he said.

Another goal for Ramos is for his group to enter the Mariachi Vargas extravaganza, an eight-day music festival that draws 15,000 fans and 1,000 performers to San Antonio to witness the Mexican tradition that stretches back 113 years.

As for himself, Ramos hopes to become a music teacher, and in particular, a mariachi teacher.

“But, I’m going to get certified as a band teacher,” he said.  “I love that and it’s what I want to do.  I prefer junior high and high school, but I might eventually teach in college if I get my master’s and advance my education.”

Also in the near future for Ramos is marriage to his fiancé, April Martinez.

Much of Ramos’ time since he has been at ASU has been taken up playing his music, not only mariachi, but jazz and classical.
“Jazz really caught my attention,” he said.  “My number one favorite jazz artist is Arturo Sandoval.  He’s more Latin jazz, and I like Wynton Marsalis.”

Ramos credits Dr. John Irish and playing in the West Texas Jazz Band for sharpening his skills, and his foray into classical music has helped him build a foundation for his other musical pursuits.

“Classical is where all the fundamentals come from,” Ramos said.  “I like the baroque style and early classical music.”

But mariachi music will always be in his heart because it is part of the culture of Mexico.

“My family came straight from Mexico and mariachi represents us directly,” Ramos said.  “It’s not as well known here, but in San Antonio, it is everywhere.  That’s what I want for San Angelo, so we can get students from Central and maybe start a program at Lake View, and even have a lot of people come to ASU eventually.”