José Antonio Escobar: Guitarist of the New Worldby Hannah Rahimi
/ October 13, 2008
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.
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.
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.”
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..
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.”
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.”