Teen Musicians Serenade Passengers on Southwest Flight During Layover


Teenage musicians from Chicago brought a little levity to a flight layover by treating passengers to an impromptu performance.

The teens were on their way to Albuquerque for a mariachi music conference. The plane stopped in Dallas first, and the flight staff asked if the ensemble would play a quick tune.

Happy to oblige, the musicians broke out their instruments and voices, performing a traditional mariachi tune.

Standing in the center aisle, students played violins, guitars, and trumpets, all traditional components of a mariachi ensemble.

Band members are 13-18 years old, and are based in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago.

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They are all members of the Chicago Mariachi Project, which aims to “elevate the Art of Mariachi and promote excellence in musicianship through education, coordination and support,” according to their Facebook page.

The band’s president and founder of Chicago Mariachi Project, Álvaro R. Obregón, said students come from as far as Indiana to participate in the group. That’s “a testament that we’re doing something right, I hope,” Obregón said.

The group was traveling to New Mexico for the Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque, an annual event that offers performance workshops and clinics.

“We’re here to learn from the mariachi masters,” Obregón said.

“We’re a small non-profit and we’re so proud of our students who last year won first place at this national competition,” Obregón told CBS News. “The students work so hard.”

Chicago Mariachi Project also has a presence in the Chicago public school system, putting instruments in the hands of as many budding musicians as they can.

The airplane performance was well-received among passengers. They filmed, smiled, and applauded the group after the impromptu performance.

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“Thank you!” wrote one Facebook user. “What a beautiful way to share our wonderful music & culture.”

Others chimed in to thank the group for representing mariachi music so well. Southwest Airlines, who encouraged the students to perform, was also highly praised by many social media users.

“This is AWESOME!” said another Facebook user. “Our diversity in the United States is what truly makes us great.”

Learning and preserving the art of mariachi is at the heart of the Chicago Mariachi Project. “We look at this as an heirloom that’s passed on from one generation to the next,” Obregón said.

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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