Friday, 24 November 2023, 17:21
That intake of breath and chords that sound in the very same second, but first, "that look". That was what fascinated the young Alejandro Escañuela (born in 1998, Malaga) when he observed Miquel Ortega conducting the Malaga Philharmonic Orchestra. He was eight years old and that moment has stayed with him as one of his first musical experiences. That was what would ultimately lead him to become what he is now: a young conductor with a promising future ahead of him. It was at the city's Gonzalo Martín Tenllado music school that he trained as a musician.
It was there that he also sat down with SUR earlier this autumn to review his brief but intense career: from student to professional, including time spent in Madrid, France and St Petersburg. All with the same philosophy: that his eyes are his best baton.
"When I started, I was passionate about the non-verbal communication that is established within any orchestra and I became much more aware of it once part of that orchestra and playing my key instrument, the bassoon. I'd look at the clarinetist and we already knew that we were breathing in sync, all without saying anything... That is something magical," says Alejandro Escañuela as he tries to explain the reason for his passion for being an orchestra conductor.
He managed to develop this passion from a very young age when, for the first time, he conducted in his native Malaga, aged just 16, at the Edgar Neville Auditorium (the theatre in the Diputación - provincial government - building).
Now he is 25 and conductor of his own orchestra, Orbis Symphony, which he founded to promote new talent from Malaga with the motto 'Where passion and talent come together'.
He started the project in 2018, originating from a string quartet looking for performance opportunities to develop their talent.
"We were just a bunch of young people who had been trained to the highest level and yet left with no work. The intention was to create a space for such motivated people and their first concerts," explains Escañuela, who now has a diary full of bookings.
Orbis's concert season kicked off in mid-September in Malaga before performances in Madrid, and appearing on stage with 'Orbis does Beethoven' at Malaga's La Térmica centre earlier this week. As to the international scene, the young conductor will appear in December alongside his teacher and maestro Tugan Sokhiev, who has been a strong supporter of Escañuela since teaching him in France and St Petersburg.
That is where Escañuela remembers one of the best moments of his training as a world-class orchestral conductor: "For seven years I've been studying outside Malaga, ever since I first went to Madrid at 18; then I lived in Toulouse for two years studying at its conservatory and then went to St Petersburg, where the discipline there led to huge personal improvement despite the Russian method being very demanding. That said, the conductor of an orchestra needs to push himself in order to ask the same of others," says the musician.
It is most unusual to have your own orchestra and be the principal or assistant conductor at 25 years of age. This has led him to live through some "bad experiences".
"There are many times that I have felt that they have not taken me seriously because, when they saw me, they only focused on my youth, not my musical ability. Music is a discipline with many prejudices, I have lived moments in which I have not felt respected," he admits.
But he remains focused on his goals and dreams, one of which is to conduct for a certain orchestra that made him as a boy long to be what he is now: a musician and conductor.
"It would be a dream come true to conduct for the Malaga Philharmonic Orchestra, which also supports local talent thanks to its managing director Juan Carlos Ramírez," said Escañuela, who is undoubtedly already a young Malaga maestro worth following.