Originally from El Centro, California, Guillermo "Willie" Acuña has been a practicing mariachi musician for more than two decades. He is a versatile, multi-instrumentalist who specializes in playing the various Mexican harp genres; however, Willie also plays the trumpet, vihuela, guitarrón, requinto jarocho and jarana jarocha. Since 2007, Willie has been the harpist for the renowned and multi-Grammy Award-nominated Mariachi Sol de México de José Hernández. Mr. Acuña has toured with Sol de México throughout the United States and Mexico, performing at numerous prestigious venues and mariachi events, including: the Hollywood Bowl (CA), Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (CA), Davies Symphony Hall (CA), Dodgers’ Stadium (CA), Cerritos Center (CA), Count Basie Theater (NJ), Chicago Millenium Park (IL), and Teatro Degollado (MX). Willie has also delighted audiences at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in Washington, DC, the Latin Grammy Awards, the Billboard Latin Music Awards, and in London for George Harrison’s family. Throughout his performance career so far, Willie has collaborated with notable musicians on stage, such as Pedrito Fernandez, Aida Cuevas, Lila Downs, José Feliciano, Angeles Ochoa, Espinoza Paz, Jenni Rivera, and Grammy Award-nominated Trio Ellas. His harp playing may also be heard on several Mariachi Sol de México albums and recordings for Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles, Luis Miguel, and Shaila Durcal.
Willie Acuña continues to give back to today’s youth by teaching at various workshops for students and teachers interested in mariachi music. He has worked as a guitar teacher for the City of San Fernando, and he has taught harp workshops for the Texas Music Educators Association, the National Mariachi Workshops for Educators in Las Vegas, and Cal Poly Pomona’s mariachi ensembles. Furthermore, Willie has lectured on the history of mariachi music at Cal State LA and Orange Coast College. Willie graduated from UCLA’s Ethnomusicology Department in 2017, and recently joined Santa Monica Youth Orchestra’s faculty beginning in the 2018-2019 academic year.