Mariachi Oro was formed in January 1998 by Daniel Lemus and Roberto Gonzales Ph.D. after a performance at the Newman Center (a Catholic parish for the UC Berkeley Community) for "La Guadalupana" in Berkeley. The predecessor to the current Mariachi Oro was a Rondalla formed by Daniel several months earlier. La Rondalla Real de California transformed itself into Mariachi Oro de California in a matter of weeks thanks in part to Roberto's initiative and foresight. Many of the original members are still in the group and many new elemets have been recently integrated.
At first many of the musicians were semi-proficient at their instruments at best; some had never played an instrument in their lives. Practices were long (up to seven hours per weekend) and the musical repertoire was very small. With time and cooperation from Mariachi Cardenal de Stanford (in the form of sheet music) Mariachi Oro became proficient in the music and aware of the potential to become a profesional mariachi.
The first generation became a sensation on the Berkeley campus. Never had there been a Mariachi at CAL and the group performed in many events not only on campus, but all around the Bay Area. During one semester the mariachi practice was a student run class sponsored by the Department of Anthropology. Since then, the group has trascended its collegiate roots to become a respected professional group. Mariachi Oro strives to improve and become a leader among professional mariachis in the USA.
Mariachi Oro has performed at UCB, S.J. State, UC Hastings, the SF Bay area, Imperial Valley in southern CA, Reno, Nevada and McAllen, Texas. It has also appeared on KPFA radio shows and has been invited (but declined to attend) performances in Alaska and Japan.
Sixth Generation (at present): 2005
The first generation: 1998
Second generation: 1999
Third Generation: 2001
Fouth Generation: 2002