Music surpasses borders. It unites people, no matter how different they are. People don’t even need to speak the same language to like the same music. In order for people to enjoy music, musicians have to perform and play the instruments and big orchestras have to have conductors leading and directing musicians to play the best way possible.  

Last year the Quad City Symphony Orchestra (QCSO) hired a new conductor for the Youth Symphony Orchestra and Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, Ernesto Estigarribia. Mr. Estigarribia is the greatest example of the music surpassing borders. Originally, from Asuncion, Paraguay, as long as he remembers this musician has been passionately devoted to music.

“I started my musical studies at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música in Paraguay. Early on I have felt a strong sense of commitment and devotion for the serious study of music,” Ernesto Estigarribia shared about the importance of music in his life. “I used to practice many hours a day, sometimes 8 hours a day when I had the time. This seemed normal to me, that at the moment I had to choose a career path the answer was obvious.”

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Clearly, a person that studies music with such passion, that it might even sound borderline obsessive, could not do anything else but become a professional musician. For years Estigarribia was a professional violinist in the Orquestra Sinfonica Nacional (National Symphonic Orchestra) in his native Paraguay. Even though he is a great violinist, he wanted to go further and become a conductor.

New Quad City Youth Symphony Orchestra and Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, Ernesto Estigarribia. Photos by Mike Fetterer

“Ever since I saw an orchestra as a young child, I was mesmerized by the leadership that conductors had. I felt as an instrumentalist I wasn’t able to lead as much as I felt the urge. I am told that I have always shown natural leadership abilities from early on, and my music-making is no different. To be a conductor one must have experience. In my case I was a professional violinist in Paraguay,” he spoke of his journey from professional violinist to orchestra conductor. “After getting a wealth of experience as a professional instrumentalist and playing a ton of chamber music and felt I was ready to start the serious study of conducting.”

His professionalism in music, his extensive experience as a violinist, his natural leadership abilities and of course his immense love for music brought him to another country. In 2010 Ernesto Estigarribia came to the United States and before landing a position with the QCSO, he got a job as an Artistic Director of the Southeastern Minnesota Youth Orchestra in Rochester, MN. At the same time, he was in the process of getting his doctorate degree in music from the University of Minnesota. In 2018 the QCSO hired this young and upcoming conductor as QCSYE (Quad Cities Youth Symphony Ensemble) Music Director and QCSO Assistant Conductor.

Now that conductor Estigarribia settled into his position with QCSO, he is looking forward to sharing his experience with young musicians. He mentioned that as Music Director of QCSYE he would like to introduce to young musicians some of the Latin American composers that many might have not heard of before. Most people are very familiar with composers like Bach and Tchaikovsky, but not many know who Clarice Assad and Arturo Marquez are. Sharing these and many other Latin-Americans composers with young musicians is sort of a mission for conductor Estigarribia. But this is not his only goal in this new position.

“My immediate plans are to build upon the already excellent Youth Ensembles program we have in the Quad Cities and develop access to more young musicians from our diverse community,’ Estigarribia shared his plans for the future of QCSYO.

He added that QCSYE is a great program, “that offers young musicians the chance to play at a higher level. Our orchestras and choir have multiple performances throughout the season. Through the orchestra art, young musicians improve their musicianship and also advance life skills that will enable them to be functional members of society.”

Besides his job as Music Director of two advanced orchestras for youth in the Quad Cities Symphony Orchestra Program, he also shared that he will continue his guest appearance as a conductor in South America. Last year he was invited as a guest conductor in Paraguay and Argentina.

At his young age, Ernesto Estigarribia reached a lot as a professional musician and now a conductor. He studied music because he loved to study music, along the way he learned the importance of going beyond just technique and learned that as a musician and conductor he has to be very sensitive to human emotions. He learned that music has to move people’s hearts. Everything he learned is thanks to his belief that opportunities are there to be taken advantage of and only those that try their best and go beyond the average will reach the stars.

“My piece of advice is to take advantage of the many opportunities that are out there. If the opportunity is perhaps a bit out of your reach, mueve cielo y tierra ([move land and sky]), as we say in Spanish to make it happen,” Ernesto Estigarribia gave advice to all young musicians out there encouraging them to not give up even if they feel down. “Sometimes opportunities don’t come so easily, and it requires a bit of sacrifice, and that is totally worth it and I guarantee you’ll never look back. Don’t wait until it is too late.”

Estigarribia also wanted to extend a special invitation to members of the Hispanic community to attend Disney Pixar’s Coco in Concert on January 18, 2020 at the Adler Theatre in Davenport, IA.

“I am very excited to conduct Coco in a live-to-movie performance in January. I would love to see many members of our Hispanic Community in there. There is no better way to be introduced to a live orchestra concert experience than with a movie we all love,” he said.

Music took Ernesto Estigarribia across borders. His love for music and desire to share his knowledge with young musicians as well as his extensive experience as a professional violinist and conductor will sure turn him into one of the best Music directors for the Quad City Youth Symphony Ensemble. 

Disney Pixar’s Coco in Concert live to Film will be on January 18, 2020, at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM. There will be special pre show activities with performances by the Quad Cities Ballet Folklorico and Glenview School Mariachi Band. Some of the Mercado on Fifth vendors will be there as well. It will take place at the Adler Theatre/RiverCenter at 136 E 3rd St, Davenport, IA. The ticket price is $25-$60 for adults and $20-$55 for students. For more information and to purchase tickets go to https://qcso.org/event/disney-%E2%80%A2-pixars-coco-in-concert/

Photos by Mike Fetterer of Fetography Professional Imaging

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