Native to Santa Fe, Santiago has been playing the guitar since the age of six. While attending New Mexico State University, he began studying and performing Mariachi in Las Cruces, El Paso and Juarez. During his time at NMSU, Santiago instructed many students as well as Directed a non-profit Youth Mariachi Program.
Since 2008, Santiago has performed with and served as director of Mariachi Sonidos del Monte. Santiago is also currently the Director of the Santa Fe Youth Symphony Mariachi, continuing to introduce younger generations to the art of Mariachi music.
Guitar, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals
Christina's first love was singing, she began at the age of 10 and has a background in choral music. She began playing the guitar and singing Mariachi music in 1997. Her passion for Mariachi music grew as a young child as she was exposed to many different artists throughout her childhood.
Christina is one of the founding members of Mariachi Sonidos del Monte. She is also a mother and is a Registered Nurse.
Gabriel "Gabe" Chavez
Vihuela, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals
Gabe Chavez was born and raised in Santa Fe. Starting on Piano at the age six and guitar at the age of seven, Gabe started playing the Vihuela in High School and worked with Mariachi Azteca. At New Mexico State University, he studied business and music while playing with Mariachi Cruces de Oro and later, Mariachi Alegre.
After college, Gabe moved to Orlando with his High School sweet heart Leah and worked with Mariachi Clasico while taking voice lessons from Manuel Lujan and Vihuela lessons from Roberto Martinez. Gabe and Leah returned to Santa Fe to raise their daughter Ziamara while playing with Mariachi Sonidos del Monte in 2009.
Guitarrón, Backing Vocals
Steven is the newest member of Mariachi Sonidos del Monte, joining in February 2017. Steven is originally from Las Vegas, NM and moved to Santa Fe in 2012. He expressed an interest in music since the third grade, joined the school band and learned to play Alto Saxophone, then Percussion. After several years, Steven was given the opportunity to join the school mariachi group and learned to play the Guitarrón under the direction of Martin Sena. He currently has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Computer Science with a specialty in developing dynamic and interactive web applications
For the last two years, Steven has volunteered with the Santa Fe Youth Symphony Mariachi Program.Prior to volunteering for the Youth Symphony, he was also a member of Mariachi Paisano del Valle based out of Ribera, NM for several years before taking an extended hiatus to help raise his son, focus on school, and his career. During his time with Mariachi Paisano del Valle, Steven had the opportunity to work with Northern New Mexican artist, Darren Cordova, recording several full length albums with the group at his studio. Steven has made tremendous leaps musically since returning to Guitarrón in 2015 and continues to provide insight and vision while being a dedicated musician.
Trumpet, Backing Vocals
Eric Ortiz began his musical journey in 1997 for the Pecos Middle School marching band and drew interest in joining the high school mariachi group with his older brother. His first professional performance was at Popejoy Hall, at age 12, with Mariachi Pantera del Yermo. One highlight performance was having the opportunity to open up for world renowned Mariachi Sol de Mexico at the Santa Fe Opera.
After high school, Eric continued his passion for music and went on to play with Mariachi Lobo at the University of New Mexico. Eric enjoys playing various styles of trumpet from Latin Jazz, Blues and New Mexico Music. His versatility has given him the opportunity to share stages with groups like Ozomatli, Sparx, Lorenzo Antonio, Al Hurricane, Tobias Rene, and Grammy award winners Flaco Jimenez and Sonny Ozuna, along with many more artists.
Eric’s favorite part of being a musician is recording sessions in the studio. He has recorded over 100 albums and live DVD performances for various artists from Texas, Colorado and New Mexico. His most recent work was on Stephanie Hatfield’s record “Traces” and Jim Keavney’s album “Put it together”, which is getting great reviews and reached the top 15 Americana CDs in Europe. Eric’s favorite album ever recorded was with Mariachi Sonidos del Monte “El Principio”, where “magic” was made in the studio and his passion for the mariachi genre is demonstrated on each track. His goals are to continue to perform for many more years and create original songs where he can eventually bring them to life in the recording studio.
“Music played with passion is an expression of the soul.”
Violin, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals
Gabe Tafoya is a multi-instrumentalist with experience playing guitar, violin, viola, cello, double bass and clarinet.Gabe holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Contemporary Music from Santa Fe University of Art & Design with emphases in world music and violin performance. Gabe is currently full-time orchestra director at Santa Fe High School and Mandela International Magnet School and part-time violin instructor for the Santa Fe Youth Symphony Association’s Mariachi program. Gabe has performed with local artists Stephanie Hatfield, Bill Palmer, Joe West, Karina Wilson,and Lone Piñon and is featured as musical arranger on Stephanie Hatfield’s song “Wish You Back” featuring Mariachi Sonidos del Monte.
Gabe studied violin with Matthew Vaughn and has attended workshops/master classes with Joe Baca of Mariachi Cobre, Dr. Michael Hopkins of the University of Michigan’s String Pedagogy Program, Souren Baronian of Balkan jazz group Taksim, and Mark Fogelquist, the founder of Mariachi Wenatchee and the Mariachi program in Chula Vista, California. Gabe plays violin with the Santa Fe Community Orchestra and enjoys a wide variety of music ranging from Classical to folk music from different parts of the world, especially from the Balkans. Gabe aspires to become a full-time professional musician and to spread the love of music to younger generations through his teaching. Gabe was honored to join Mariachi Sonidos del Monte in 2014 with whom he continues to perform, grow, and spread the joys of music.
Violin, Backing Vocals
Margaret Armstrong is a 3rd generation New Mexican who is a self-taught pianist, violinist and guitarist. Margaret has taught these instruments at her home studio for the last 25 years.
She has been performing Mariachi violin for over 20 years in Santa Fe and feels privileged to have the opportunity to share Mariachi music with so many families and friends.
Violin, Backing Vocals
Sara Maldonado was born and raised in Santa Fe and was inspired by her grandfather, Mariano Romero, to begin playing violin when she was 7 years old. Playing mariachi has given her the opportunity to travel around the southwestern United States, Mexico, France, Belgium, and Austria.
Sara has recorded a CD with Mariachi Buenaventura as well as opened for Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles and Mariachi Mujer 2000 at the Santa Fe Opera. Sara is a former teacher for Albuquerque Public Schools and Santa Fe Public Schools. She currently lives in Pecos, NM with her husband and two daughters. She is a stay-at-home mom and is passing on her love of music to her children.