SUNNYSIDE — When young Alex Duenaf steps up to the microphone he turns into different guy.

The crowd quiets a little to hear him sing popular and traditional mariachi songs.

The weekend of May 3-5, Duenaf and the Sunnyside High School Mariachi band were part of Saturday’s afternoon Cinco de Mayo musical line-up.

“Alex is quite a singer,” admits his musical director Martin Pittis, adding he is one of four soloists in the school band, who performed on the Centennial Square Stage.

Duenaf and fellow performers will have an opportunity to play on a larger stage when the group travels to Spokane Saturday, May 18, to perform in the annual Lilac Festival Parade.

Pittis is ready to praise all his mariachi musicians, many whom have only been playing a musical instrument since joining his class.

He has a lot of first year students in his 25-piece band.

A senior, Duenaf has been with the class longer, and has more experience, Pittis allowed.

The band has been traveling and performing more than ever this year.

The musicians have played at home basketball games, parent night events and parent conferences.

The band recently returned from the Northwest Mariachi Festival in Wenatchee.

Pittis said the kids got to play with professional players.

This is Pittis’ last year with Sunnyside players as he is relocating to Mount Vernon following the end of the current school year.

“I’ve worked with this group for the past five years, and it’s been a joy,” he added.

As his final assignment, Pittis will host the Mariachi Band’s Spring Concert at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 28 at the Sunnyside High School auditorium.

He said the middle school 7th and 8th grade and the high school strings will perform.

“They are a surprising group of musicians,” he added.

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