The Princeton Mariachi Musician

East LA Native Introduces Mariachi Music to the Ivy League

Sophomore Esteban Juárez González, a Garfield High School alumnus, raised money for instruments and recruited student musicians who are now recognized as the ‘Mariachi Los Tigres de Princeton,’ the first formally recognized mariachi group at the university.

BY ANABEL MUÑOZ
KABC NEWS REPORTER

When you hear a mariachi band, you’ll likely think of Mexico or maybe California — but probably not New Jersey.
Esteban Juárez González, an East Los Angeles native and Princeton sophomore, used his passion for mariachi music to bring it to the university — making history.
“I wanted to bring mariachi here to share with the other people not just like, you know, particularly Mexican people, but like with the whole campus,” said González.
However, it’s not the first time González made history. His first performance was in 2013 at a Mariachi gathering at the Rose Bowl, which broke a world record for the most mariachi musicians performing at once.
As a second-generation Mexican American passionate for his culture, he later co-founded the mariachi group at Garfield High School with support from his father, who directs the program.
Now as a student at Princeton, González is shaping an environment quite different than the one he was raised in.
“Being from East L.A., the community is like predominantly Hispanic and Latino. And then coming here to Princeton was like, where Latinos and Hispanics kind of make up 11% of the college community, was a very big culture shock,” he said.
In order to develop and turn his vision into a reality, González had to raise money for instruments and recruit students who are now recognized as “Mariachi Los Tigres de Princeton,” the first formally recognized mariachi group at the university.
“We could not be more thrilled to welcome Mariachi Los Tigres to the Princeton University community. Esteban and all of the students involved with the performance group have worked incredibly hard and with deep passion to create an organization that showcases the rich Mexican culture and heritage through music. We’re excited to support groups like Mariachi Los Tigres de Princeton as they grow and thrive in their mission — just as we work to attract and support talented students from all backgrounds,” the university said in a statement.
The group’s first performance took place earlier this month, and González’s mother was there to witness the special and historic moment.
“It brought tears to my eyes,” said Lucy Juárez, González’s mother. “Just him explaining to the audience of diverse backgrounds, the meaning of mariachi.”

Anabel Munoz is a general assignment reporter for ABC7 Eyewitness News in Los Angeles, covering Race and Culture. Follow her at Twitter.com/abc7anabel.

Published with permission

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