José Angel Salazar Marin. A true success story!
He was born on Margarita Island in Venezuela. When he was 8 years old he started learning the violin as a student of El Sistema. Already, at the age of 14, the Guardian wrote an entire article about him as the youngest conductor. In 2018 he became the very first Artistic Director of El Sistema Greece, sharing his musical knowledge, inspiring hundreds of children and proving that miracles can really happen and that the key to success is not only luck and talent but also hard work!
José Angel Salazar Marin was a child like all others. He loved playing and he loved the sea, he went to school, he learnt the art of karate and loved his family. One day his father and grandfather took him to a concert and Jose, instead of getting bored, liked it so much he cried; not one, not two but three times during the concert. And then, he stopped practicing karate and the recorder entered his life …
Although he was small, he realized very soon that the record was not ‘’his instrument’’ and he started learning the violin instead. The violin -yes- was definitely the musical instrument for him!
As a student of El Sistema, José Angel spent most of his childhood afternoons in the nucleo of his area, Porlamar. El Sistema students attend music lessons daily; for years. Learning music in El Sistema is not just an extracurricular activity or a hobby. It is a daily habit and teachers and classmates eventually become a second family. The parents of the students know this well: Having a child at El Sistema is as important as being a child at El Sistema and it becomes a way of life for the whole family.
José Angel remembers and shares with us 8 important moments from his student years at El Sistema!
1.My first violin and conducting teacher Luis Villaroel, and one of my best childhood friends Edgar Rondon, after one great concert of the Porlamar Children’s Orchestra, when I was 11 years old and I served as concertmaster for the orchestra. In this concert I also conducted one piece for the first time at a “big theatre”.
2.11 years old again. That was the first time I ever conducted in public for a concert celebrating Mother’s Day in our nucleo of Porlamar, Margarita. I conducted Aria by Robert Schumann with my friends from the Porlamar Children’s Orchestra.
3.This is a photo of my first concert in Caracas, with the Caracas Youth Symphony Orchestra. I was 14 years old and I conducted “The mastersingers from Nurnberg” overture by Richard Wagner. Maestro José Antonio Abreu was mentoring me personally for all these rehearsals. It was also my first concert outside of Margarita Island, and the beginning of my studies in Caracas.
4. My first concert with a professional orchestra: the Nueva Esparta Symphony Orchestra. I was 14 years old and the Principal Conductor Mo. Felipe Izcaray, appointed me assistant conductor after this concert.
5.This was the first time I met Gustavo Dudamel, at his rehearsals for the Verdi’s Requiem in Caracas. He invited me for one week to assist his rehearsals and study the piece together. I was 15 years old.
6.This picture was taken during a break of one of the rehearsals with the Caracas Youth Symphony Orchestra. Maestro José Antonio Abreu was at every rehearsal to work together on my conducting and with the orchestra.
7. This was one of the last concerts I had with the Nueva Esparta Regional Youth Orchestra, the orchestra for which I worked for 4 years as the main conductor. It was my first musical family and shaped my personality as an artistic leader.
8. My “Maestroabuelo” (Maestrograndfather) Felipe Izcaray and I. He is an important figure in my life as a musician. He guided me during my first conducting experiences with professional orchestras and introduced me personally to Maestro José Antonio Abreu He continues to be one of my guides up to this day, and I consider him part of my family.