Home     Content     Articles      La Scena Musicale     Search   

La Scena Musicale - Vol. 14, No. 2

José Antonio Escobar: Guitarist of the New World

by Hannah Rahimi / October 13, 2008

Version française...

“Music is like therapy,” says classical guitarist José Antonio Escobar. “A student of mine said that playing an instrument helps him to know himself.” Escobar is a professor at the Universidad Mayor in Santiago and enjoys an active career performing and teaching around the world. He has won over sixteen awards at major international guitar competitions, and has recorded for NAXOS and RTVE.

Escobar grew up in Santiago, Chile. Born into a musical family, it was natural for him to develop an early appreciation for music. “I was living with my grandfather who played the violin and had a big collection of vinyl recordings. The house was always full of music.” Escobar’s father bought him his first guitar when he was a child. Discovering a natural ease with the instrument, he began by writing pop songs, accompanying himself on the guitar. But when his voice began to change, he stopped singing and turned to classical music. Friends taught him to read music, giving him scores and recordings to study. At 14, he began lessons with the renowned Ernesto Quezado, adding structure to his musical endeavors.

After graduating from the University of Chile, Escobar left for Germany to begin his Master’s Degree under Franz Halász at the Hochschule für Musik Nürnberg-Augsburg. He met Halász at a competition in Rio di Janeiro, and quickly realized that the young guitarist was exactly the teacher he desired. His time in Europe was a crucial period in his musical development. “Europe was very important for every classical musician, but especially for a South American. We didn’t have these opportunities in Chile; the many orchestras, concerts all the time, the endless chances to listen to great musicians and to study with them.”

Though Escobar was wooed with scholarship offers throughout Europe and North America, he chose to return to Santiago hoping to affect the musical landscape of his country. Chile provided him with a reprieve from the strict classical regime in Europe With the support of NAXOS, he recorded two albums of Chilean music, including some compositions by his friends..

Although he has recorded in Canada, José Antonio Escobar has yet to perform here. His first Canadian concert takes place in Montréal on October 24. “Montréal is a very interesting city. I am happy to be playing somewhere that is so important for music and the arts.”

As a teacher, Escobar reminds his students that there is more to performing than technical ability. “Sometimes people just want to play fast, perfect notes like a recording. Remember that the music itself is the most important thing. As a musician, you are doing something important – everyone needs to listen to music.”

Version française...

(c) La Scena Musicale