My father’s passion for music (he has always been and always will be a music lover) inspired his children to take their first steps in music from a very young age. My brothers quit, but I kept at it.
I remember perfectly when I was 6 years old, my father took me to a musical instrument store. The employee who assisted us there used to play a few instruments himself. My father told him “this is my youngest son, who I hope is more talented musically than my other kids. Which instrument do you recommend him to play?” The employee stared to my mouth, teeth and hands and said “he looks like a trumpeter”.
And this is how my musical career began. For me it was like a game. I was still young and truly too restless to take it seriously. Not long after that I met the person I consider my life-long Maestro, Javier Viceiro Filgueira. He is Full Professor at the Advanced Conservatory of Music of Vigo. From that moment everything started taking shape for me. His lessons covered more than only technical aspects of the trumpet. He taught me how to listen, to learn and to interpret music correctly.
Later on, courses, competitions and youth orchestras came into the picture. In 2000, I went to my first seminarwith the National Youth Orchestra of Spain. I was sixteen years old. It was the first experience I had ever had with any orchestra. We played Mahler’s 1st Symphony. I had no idea who Gustav Mahler was, so I went to a music store and I bought the only copy they had of that piece. It was a recording of the Chicago Symphony from 1990 by EMI under Klaus Tennstedt’s baton. When I listened to it I was astonished. The music was incredible; however the way those people played was what surprised me the most. Sound, articulation, intonation, character… everything was simply stunning. Everything became clear to me. I absolutely wanted to play like them. I wanted to be Adolph Herseth and play in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
For many years I devoted myself to buy and listen to as many recordings as possible by the CSO to keep maturing as a musician. I truly consider myself self-taught in terms of orchestra training. I learned by listening and analyzing everything that was coming to my ears. I studied through the five senses. That was essential for me.
I won auditions, competitions and I had the opportunity to play with great orchestras under the baton of great conductors. However, I always had the same dream in mind.
And sometimes dreams come true. After a really long two year process of musical and bureaucratic challenges at the age of 36, I have the honor to humbly join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as their new Principal trumpet.
Talent is an important skill for a musician but you won’t achieve anything unless you add to it hard work, effort and humility. We should never forget that it is hard to get there, but it is even harder to keep being there
Esteban Batallán Principal Trumpet of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
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