Andrés Orozco-Estrada had his first encounter with music on Christmas 1980 when his mom gave him some congas with which he discovered the joy of music and just like that, slapping away the little toy instrument, he started the journey of his life when he was only tree years old.

We could say his musical growth has been as fast has the speed with which he hugged that percussion and its sound, because now aged 38 he’s already conducted over a dozen orchestras all over the world. From Vienna, where he was formed as a conductor and where he lives, he flies with his talent to London, Paris, Houston, Kanawa (Japan) and now to the Canary Islands.

He also finds time, when he can, to dock himself in Colombia, the country that witnessed his birth and where he’s developing many musical projects at the Bolívar Davivenda Foundation with the Colombia Young Philharmonic. Because, someone who could play the violin at the age of six, knows better than anyone that the roots of music find within the youths the perfect environment to grow.

At this early age he was already singing at the choir and playing with the orchestra of a music school that still exists in Medellin. Nowadays he earns his living and astonishes the world with his favorite children’s game. However, little Andrés Orozco-Estrada’s passion as a child was to cut the air with his hands trying to transpose his musical ideas and interpretations by gestures and facial expressions with the orchestra in music.

The first steps over the road of music from Medellin are followed by new ones that take him to Austria, the country that gave birth to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Haydn or Franz Schubert, where classical music lives. In there Andrés Orozco-Estrada finds the reason that makes him turn his childhood’s passion into his life.

He receives there the first lessons on orchestra’s conduction, he discovers the snow, a new language and he learns about a new way of being and thinking.

At the beginning of the 20th century the man of the moment was Austrian conductor and composer Gustav Mahler who, with his never-ending technically challenging symphonies, placed the symphonic language on an unbeatable level, becoming an icon for the current conductors. Andrés Orozco-Estrada cannot escape Mahler’s influence. In Vienna he buys as a gift to himself a pocket music sheet of Mahler’s First, with which he discovers a new world, both musical and human. Years later, his first opening concert was precisely with this symphony. A link is then established that transcends the music and that he will live again at the Canary Islands 32nd International Music Festival where he’ll perform what became his first symphony.

Passionate, close, natural and young for an orchestra conductor who reached success at the age of 38. That’s how this Colombian could be described, renowned as one of the best in the world at such a young age thanks to his brave personality that has made him risk it all at the right moments.

Andrés Orozco-Estrada is a miracle, at least that’s how the Viennese press described him in 2004, the year when he was noticed internationally when he conducted the Tonkünstler Orchestra at the Musikverein in Vienna even if it was just a series of coincidences what made him take this big leap of faith in his career.

Andrés Orozco-Estrada speaks and stretches his arms around as if he wanted to conduct his words the same way he does it with his musicians. This is the body language of a conductor, usually exaggerated, so often theatrical, that has transcended the world of the classical music to become part of the popular culture. His Latin American roots were a certain quality that would help him bring in all the passion over the music stand. But it didn’t take him long to find out his talent wouldn’t be recognized just by the movement of his arms. He understood the real meaning of his job was so complex, so difficult, that could only be explained in three words: move the audience.

After reaching the position of a great figure of the international musical scene, Andrés Orozco-Estrada has to deal with other dilemmas. Amongst the buzz of the airports, concerts, new orchestras and offers, festivals, and his dedication to form new musical talents; he stubbornly insists on finding time and the equilibrium needed to be happy. His family’s support that pushes him to enroll in new challenges, climb onto new music stands and conduct in different continents. These is his “quarter of an hour” as they say in his homeland. And for now he’s jump into making the most of it as if it was already his last minute.

Andrés Orozco-Estrada is currently the musical director of the Huston Symphonic Orchestra, titular director of the Symphonic Orchestra of Frankfurt’s Radio and main guest conductor at the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

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Illustration,  Theo Zasche.

Photography,  Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Roma.

Stock images, hr Sinfonie Orchester (Arte Concert)