Batallán, between Chicago and Hong Kong

The Galician Musician is Principal Trumpet in the Eastern orchestra and guest in the North American orchestra, where he performs under the direction of Riccardo Muti.

La Voz de Galicia Wednesday, 10 April 2019

The trumpet player Esteban Batallán (Barro, 1983) knows well the wandering lifestyle that music imposes on many performers. Since he began the study and practice of his instrument at only seven years old, Batallán has formed part of or collaborated in orchestras from Galicia to India, from Amsterdam to Porto, from Italy to Switzerland. Currently, he occupies the position of Principal Trumpet in the Hong Kong Philharmonic, while he simultaneously collaborates with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as Principal Guest.

In the North American orchestra, he works with a mythical name in musical direction, the Italian Riccardo Muti, who brings his character to an orchestra that figures among the best in the world. Among the factors that influence the impact that a director can have among his musicians, Batallán references the “flourish” when directing, “the way that he directs (character, gaze, his own body movement…), his idea about what he is interpreting, how he can see and transfer his idea about thepiece, how he transmits the music, how he treats the group, how he expresses himself without the need for speech….” Factors that, in the case of Muti, make up someone who “transmits music with his whole being and demands from the group a great implication in every way.” “Without a doubt, he is a great director, undoubtedly the best interpreter of the music of Verdi and Italian music in general, aside from Toscanini”, praises Batallán.

For the Galician trumpet player, being able to play with this orchestra is a dream come true. “I can perfectly describe the sensation of playing with the people who I have always idolized in some way; I grew up with them, listening to their recordings, with which I believe I learned to develop within myself a determined way of playing, simply analyzing these recordings, delving deep into them and trying to ‘imitate’, you could say, a style, mannerisms, a form of perceiving or interpreting the music…”, he describes. Batallán considers [the Chicago Symphony Orchestra] to be the best symphony orchestra that exists, and he is aware that being able to play with them is the result of a great deal of effort and dedication, but he does not stop here by any means. Once he achieved the position of Principal Guest, the Galician trumpet player began working continuously toward forming part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, now that there are auditions open for the coming month of June. This does not mean that he will neglect his obligations in Hong Kong: “I have many months ahead of playing great works of the symphonic repertoire (Mahler, Bruckner, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky..) with our musical director, Jaap van Zweden, who is also head of the New York Philharmonic.”

Universal Language

Thus, between the West and the East transpires the life of Batallán, who forms part of this great United Nations of musicians who participate in a universal language, music, and make themselves understood wherever they go. A code of which Batallán is also a teacher, as he was recently in his native Galicia to teach a master class in the conservatory of Vigo. Regarding his role as teacher, the trumpet player believes that the key lies in transmitting not only knowledge, but also ideas and attitudes. “With my life experiences, I try to encourage what I believe everyone should take into account: passion for the music, for the instrument, dedication, organization, discipline… and always from a place of humility, respect and honesty, values that are sometimes diluted or forgotten,” he says.

Batallán confesses that he is a devotee of Wynton Marsalis, for fusing the best of classical and jazz; Adolph Herseth – “the legendary soloist of the Chicago Symphony”; Maurice Andre – “the most outstanding soloist of the 20th century”; and Arturo Sandoval – “a star of light music and Latin jazz.” All of them are legendary figures in terms of the trumpet, an instrument with which the Galician musician affirms that he has a “fully emotional” relationship; for him, like for many musicians, the instrument is almost another member of the family to care for.