Sweetwater Union High School District's
William Virchis Visual and Performing Arts Department


Get to know
Mariachi Sol De Mexico de Jose Hernandez 
(click here)
and SUHSD's conference instructors:
 David Ceja, Jesus Ceja, Perry Chacon, Wendy Charines, Ulysses Geraldo,
Guadalupe Gonzalez, Matthew Real, David Rodriguez, Alicia Rubio, Fredd Sanchez, and Juan Zamarron.

Jesus Ceja has been a mariachi musician since the age of 14 when he began taking guitar lessons from his father. Soon after he began attending the Community Mariachi Program at the Sherman Heights Community Center under the direction of Maestro Alvaro Luna. Mr Ceja became one of the original members of Mariachi Juvenil de San Diego de Maestro Serafin Paredes. With this group Jesus was appointed section leader and key vocalist in the group for 5 years. In the fall of 2003 Jesus began attending mariachi classes at Southwestern College under the direction of Dr. Jeff Nevin.

In 2005 as a graduate from Steele Canyon High School, Mr. Ceja received scholarships to continue his education from the Mariachi Juvenil de San Diego, a non-profit organization, and the Sweetwater Union High School District. In the Spring of 2005 Jesus began his first after school mariachi program at Hoover High School with Ms. Debbie Nevin. Later he gained coaching positions at Montgomery Middle School (2007-2008), City Heights Mariachi Program(2007- 2011), and Lincoln High School (2009- 2010). In December of 2006 Jesus was invited to join Mariachi Champana Nevin. With this group he has been able to travel to many places and perform in concerts with some of the country’s best orchestral musicians.  His mariachi group travels include: Key West, FL; Tyler, TX; Santa Rosa, CA; Pasadena, CA; San Bernardino, CA; San Diego, CA; Guadalajara, Mexico; Vladivostok, Russia; and Seoul, Korea. He has also recorded two of Mariachi Champaña’s most recent CD’s

Mr. Ceja is currently a mariachi instructor at Olympian High School, Otay Ranch High School, Castle Park High School and he is also the Director of Mariachi Los Pasacalles, a community youth group.

Perry Chacon Jr. was born in Chula Vista, California, on November 13th, 1990. He began his music education at Chula Vista Middle School under Mark Fogelquist. At first he played guitar but moved on to the guitarrón a year later. Upon his promotion to Chula Vista High School he was invited by Mark Fogelquist to join one of the district’s top groups, Mariachi Chula Vista. While a member of Mariachi Chula Vista for 5 years, as a guitarrón player and vocalist, he performed at over 500 events including the Santa Barbara Mariachi festival, the Music Educators National Conference in Salt Lake City, and the Guadalajara “Encuentro Nacional del Mariachi y la Charreria”. He was also part of the “Master Class” directed by José Hernández at the Albuquerque Mariachi Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His passion for teaching grew while being part of Mariachi Chula Vista and he has been an instructor for various Mariachi conferences such as the Victorville Mariachi conference, Sweetwater Mariachi conference, and Tucson International Mariachi Conference. Perry has also been part of SUHSD Visual Performing Arts Department for 3 years as a Mariachi Assistant to the teachers in the district. He strives to inspire students and help them understand the passion and tradition behind the mariachi art.

Perry is currently studying Music Education at Southwestern College and is part of Mariachi Garibaldi directed by Dr. Jeff Nevin. He has performed and recorded professionally with many groups in California including Dr.Nevin’s Mariachi Champaña Nevin.  He was recently accepted into the Bachelor’s Program in Music Education at Arizona State University and is planning to transfer there in the fall of 2012. His goals are to receive his Music Education degree from one of the top music schools in the nation, teach in the Sweetwater Union High School District, and continue performing professionally.

Wendy Charines grew up in San Diego, California. After high school, she began her college education at Southwestern Community College where she began a career in music.  After two years at Southwestern, she auditioned to be accepted at San Diego State’s music program as a vocal major. She received her BM in Music Education in 2000.  During her schooling, she performed in SDSU Opera Theatre productions such as “The Mikado,” “West Side Story,” “The Barber of Seville,” and scenes from many other Operas.  She also performed in the SDSU concert band as a trumpet player.

After graduating from San Diego State University, she began her credential program and her Masters in Education at National University.  During this time she started teaching in two different music outreach programs.  The first one, La Jolla Community Music Center, was funded by La Jolla Music Society and she taught string instruments, guitar, and band instruments to students from grades 4-12. The second one was Nuevas Voces, an outreach vocal music program funded by San Diego Opera, and is where she taught children’s choirs from different schools and produced a few children’s musicals and scenes from different operas and musicals adapted for children. 

  Ms. Charines began teaching at San Ysidro High School in 2002 during the first generation. Since then, she has been teaching mariachi, choir, and orchestra. The mariachi program has been very successful from the beginning. They started with one class composed of 16 students and now they have three different classes with over 100 students. Ms. Charines says; “It has been a great satisfaction to be able to teach music in the community where I grew up. I love to see how much music has developed in our district throughout the years. Hopefully, we can continue enriching the lives of many generations through music and the arts.” 

Mark Fogelquist received his BA (1969) and MA (1975) in music from UCLA.  His thesis, Rhythm and Form in the Contemporary Son Jalisciense, was the first extended work on mariachi music.  From 1973 to 1993 Mr. Fogelquist directed Mariachi Uclatlán, a professional mariachi based in the Los Angeles area. Mariachi Uclatlán recorded seven albums and accompanied important artists of the mariachi genre, among them Lola Beltrán, Lucha Villa, Linda Ronstadt, and Vikki Carr.  

In 1993 Mr. Fogelquist moved to the Pacific Northwest, where he began Washington State's first school mariachi program. For his work as an educator and contributor to culture in Washington he received the 2000 Governor's Heritage Award.  The same year he also received the Reconocimiento Ohtli, the highest award of the Mexican government for individuals contributing to the well-being of Mexicans abroad.  His program was also the subject of two editions of Primer Impacto and he was honored on Sábado Gigante for changing the lives of migrant students in Wenatchee.  

In 2001 Mr. Fogelquist returned to California to teach mariachi music at Chula Vista High School. In ten years of competing at the Mariachi Spectacular Competition in Albuquerque, Mariachi Chula Vista has won five first place and five second place trophies, and at San Juan Capistrano Battle of the Mariachis the group has entered four times and taken first place four times. Mariachi Chula Vista has been honored by the New York Times, the Music Educators National Conference, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, DC, and the Encuentro Internacional del Mariachi in Guadalajara where in 2010, the group was recognized as El Mejor Mariachi Internacional (the Best International Mariachi) among dozens of competing groups from around the world.  

Since 1979, Mr. Fogelquist has been a presenter, speaker, and instructor at many mariachi conferences and festivals around the country including those in Tucson, Albuquerque, San Jose, Las Cruces, Las Vegas, Fresno, Seattle and San Antonio.  Mark Fogelquist is the 2005 recipient of the California Association for Music Education (CMEA) Multicultural Music Educator Award, the 2007 San Diego Youth Symphony Music Educator of the Year award, and is a founding member of the MENC Mariachi Education Committee.

Ulysses Geraldo was born and raised in San Diego. He attended Southwest Middle School and Chula Vista High School where he discovered his joy and passion for music. Through extended help from mariachi teacher Mark Fogelquist, Ulysses transferred into the SCPA program (School of Creative and Performing Arts) while at Chula Vista High School. Ulysses proved his determination by practicing 6-9 hours per day in order to pass the audition to join Mariachi Chula Vista, the premier mariachi group at Chula Vista High. Ulysses is also passionate about helping others and enjoys working with children with special needs. His family is very important to him and he helps care for his three younger brothers Jonathan, Juan, and Albert. His older brother Jorge inspired him to overcome obstacles and taught him the value of family and music. Besides having been a member of Mariachi Chula Vista, Ulysses is also a member of Mariachi Estrellas de Chula Vista.

Ricardo “Ricky” Munguia is a 22 year old trumpet player who started in the Sweetwater Union High School District’s mariachi program at Montgomery Middle School. His first teachers were Jose L. Salinas and Keith Ballard. After two years of demonstrating himself as the lead trumpet player, he went to Montgomery High School and played with the advanced students as a freshman where he played under the direction of Guadalupe Gonzalez. After a year at Montgomery High School, Ricky was interested in joining Mariachi Chula Vista. After a demanding audition and several rehearsals, Director Mark Fogelquist granted Ricky the opportunity of a lifetime: to be a member of Mariachi Chula Vista. After an initial period of adjustment, Ricky transferred to Chula Vista High School and became a very important member of one of the best student mariachi groups in the nation. Ricky played with Mariachi Chula Vista for three years in high school and as an assistant for three years after high school. Ricky’s trumpet playing blossomed in Mariachi Chula Vista. He traveled to over 30 out-of-state trips, won numerous competitions, and has shared the stage with the best mariachi groups in the world. Ricky is currently studying music at Southwestern Community College and is pursuing a degree in music from San Diego State University. He currently plays with Mariachi Estrellas de Chula Vista, an alumni group from Mariachi Chula Vista’s graduated students. The group is under the direction of Mark Fogelquist.

Matthew Real was born in San Diego, California, on April 15, 1992. Being exposed to music at a young age by his parents, he always had a curiosity about playing instruments. He started his musical career at Montgomery Middle School and later advanced to Montgomery High School under the musical direction of Guadalupe González. After graduating from high school in 2010, Matthew continued his musical education at Southwestern Community College and San Diego State University.

Having already performed and worked with several professional mariachi groups in the California area, Matthew hopes to help continue his aspirations of one day becoming a part of the nation's premiere mariachi, Mariachi Sol De México de José Hernández. He feels honored to have been hired by the Visual and Performing Arts Department of SUHSD and hopes he can help the youth understand and interpret the art of mariachi music so that it may continue for generations to come. 

David Rodriguez is an alumnus of Montgomery High School and Montgomery Middle School and was part of the mariachi program at both schools. After high school, David held a Mariachi Assistant position at Montgomery Middle School with Keith Ballard and two years later is now a teacher at Montgomery Middle School and Southwest High School. David has been a professional musician for the last ten years and plays with Mariachi Espectacular de Beto Jimenez. He is also in charge of three magnificent groups: Mariachi Griego (Montgomery Middle), Mariachi Estado de Oro (Southwest High), and Mariachi Diamante de San Diego (community group). David is grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in the mariachi program and feels honored to now be a part of a program that helped him become what he is today. He hopes to inspire many students the same way his mariachi teachers inspired him. 

Alicia Rubio is a native San Diegan.  She started to learn violin at age 11 at Montgomery Middle School in their mariachi program.  Alicia continued the mariachi program at Montgomery High School, Mariachi Azteca directed by Guadalupe Gonzales. Alicia now plays for Southwestern College’s Mariachi Garibaldi directed by Jeff Nevin and for Grossmont College Symphony Orchestra where she is currently studying classical music. Alicia is also working as a violin coach with the Sweetwater Union High School District’s Visual and Performing Arts Department. Her plans for the future are to transfer to a four-year university and graduate with a Bachelor’s in Music Education.

Fredd Sanchez has been playing mariachi for over thirteen years and has been teaching for over seven years. His job experience includes teaching at Olympian High School, Otay Ranch High School, Castle Park High School, and Alfredo Aranda’s Escuela de Musica, as well as private instruction. He is currently teaching at National City Middle School and Sweetwater High School. He has taught mariachi in the SUHSD Summer Arts Academy the last three years and has also had the privilege of being an instructor at the Tucson International Mariachi Conference, the largest conference of its kind in the United States. He currently plays with Southwestern College’s Mariachi Garibaldi and directs Mariachi Continental de San Diego.    

Juan Zamarron
was born and raised in San Diego, California. He has been involved in mariachi music from a young age, starting at Montgomery Middle School’s Mariachi program under the direction of Mr. Keith Ballard and moved onto Montgomery High School two years later to perform under the direction of Mr. Guadalupe Gonzalez. Juan says his brother was a big role model for him in music. When Juan was nine he remembers going to El Cielito Lindo Restaurant, home of Mariachi Sol De Mexico. While at the restaurant the thing that caught his attention the most was the trumpet. Since that time he knew what instrument he wanted to play. He has been playing the trumpet for eight years and has played with many mariachi groups throughout southern California. Juan is very dedicated and passionate about mariachi music and he feels privileged to work for the Sweetwater Union High School District. He hopes to one day open his own restaurant here in San Diego so he can continue to share his musical experiences with the next generation.

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