Wenatchee’s award-winning mariachi program gets its chance to shine Friday under the direction of Eduardo Cortes-Solorio.

Formerly the assistant director, Cortes-Solorio stepped in last month to fill the shoes, at least temporarily, of Ramon Rivera, who has led the mariachi students since 2005.

Rivera announced in late October that he is taking a leave of absence to provide care for his son, who has autism. He expects to be out at least through the end of the school year.

Cortes-Solorio said in November that his goal is to make sure the program, and the students, stay on track, preparing for the winter festival, as well as the 22nd Annual Mariachi Festival on March 27 at the Town Toyota Center.

“It’s something I’ve been involved with for a long time and I’m very passionate about continuing to bring it to Wenatchee,” he said.

It’s almost as though he’s been training for the task since he was in high school, he said.

“I was a mariachi student in Wenatchee myself and have worked with Ramon Rivera as a volunteer, paraeducator and an assistant director,” he said. “I also had the opportunity to do my student teaching with another great Wenatchee music teacher, Dawn McCormick. In reality, I have been studying for this position for a total of 14 years.”

The Wenatchee High School grad earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Central Washington University in 2015. In October, he earned his master’s degree in secondary education with an endorsement in music from Grand Canyon University.

“The concert is definitely something we’re going to be working toward,” he said in November. “One of my main areas of focus however, is to make sure that all of the mariachi students are academically on level and performing at their best.”

On Monday, he said the students are doing great.

“The last few weeks have been amazing,” he said. “Our students, both at the middle school and high school level, have been working extremely hard to put on a great show for our friends and families.”

About 250 students perform Friday, including Lewis & Clark Elementary’s Folklorico group, along with the musicians from Orchard, Pioneer and Foothills middle schools and the four mariachi groups at Wenatchee High School — Corazon De Mexico (Folklorico WHS), Mariachi Cielo Azul, Mariachi Azteca and Mariachi Huenachi.

The concert starts at 7 p.m. Friday at the Wenatchee High School Auditorium, 1101 Millerdale Ave.

Admission is free. Proceeds from concessions, baked goods and calendar sales will help fund instruments, uniforms, travel and scholarships.

Nevonne McDaniels: 664-7151