Chicago Symphony picks Spanish principal trumpet

Chicago Symphony picks Spanish principal trumpet


norman lebrecht

July 10, 2019

From the CSO:

Esteban Batallán was the selected candidate after the final round of auditions for CSO principal trumpet in Chicago in June. As part of the audition process, he is required to perform in the orchestra for two weeks this coming season with Music Director Riccardo Muti conducting, before a final decision is made.

Esteban, 35, this week gave up his principal seat with the Hong Kong Philharmonic.





  • anon says:

    “…gave up his principal seat with the Hong Kong Philharmonic”

    whose music director is Jaap van Zweden, who of course stole the principal trumpet from Chicago to New York where is also music director.

    It is only fair that Muti take one of Zweden’s as pay back.

    Reminds me of the line from The Untouchables:

    “You wanna get Capone? Here’s how you get him. He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue! That’s the Chicago way!”

  • observer says:

    The idealization of orchestra musicians is a measure of our cultural poverty.

  • Stanley says:

    They actually hired this egomaniac?

    • Anon says:


    • David says:

      All trumpeters are egomaniacs. Trumpet parts require enormous courage. Garrison Keilor was right, trumpeters want to wear uniforms with sashes and medals and believe that ducks will fall from the sky after certain excerpts.

      • Bruce says:

        I’m never sure if the personality chooses the instrument, or the instrument molds the personality. Do egomaniacs choose the trumpet because of all the things Keillor said (which are hilariously true), or do you have to become an egomaniac in order to handle the pressure of playing the trumpet? Both are plausible; probably both happen.

        A piece of anecdotal evidence: I was talking to a nurse at the hospital where I work. When she realized I’m a musician in my other life, she immediately said “Oh, I have an 11-year-old who plays the trumpet. He’s actually a real jerk. He’s going to make somebody a perfect ex-husband someday.” 😀

        • Bruce says:

          I don’t know every trumpet player, but I do know there are some (maybe many, maybe even a majority) out there who are good people. I have known my share of asshole trumpet players. It probably happens just often enough to be a stereotype, like bitchy flute players or neurotic oboists.

          Perhaps instead of egomania, we should say “high level of self-confidence.” The nicest guy in the world can’t be full of self-doubt if he’s going to do a decent job on Zarathustra or Brandenburg 2.

          I do believe that for some, that need for self-confidence turns into egomania — as if they can’t figure out how to be a supremely confident trumpet player and a humble, thoughtful person at the same time.

      • Todd says:

        I respectfully disagree. Chris Martin is a gentleman beyond compare. Look at Ryan Anthony, Principal at Dallas. Using his fight against cancer to help defeat cancer through and the Ryan Anthony foundation. Herb Alpert is an amazing philanthropist and Doc Severinson still plays for schools and charities. Your post made me realize I have worked with Many of the best trumpet players around and more, so thanks for that. I think at the top level, these guys are generous and even humble.

      • Don Ciccio says:

        Nonsense. Bud Herseth had nothing of a egomaniac.

        • Old Man in the Midwest says:


          Bud had the biggest ego of them all. He was a pain in the ass to work with for most of his colleagues and the guest conductors who rolled into town.

          • Don Ciccio says:

            I met him and this was not the impression that I got. When I told him that I am looking forward hearing the Chicago Symphony in Mahler 5th, he told me he’ll practice, especially the famous trumpet solo from the beginning of the work. I heard other similar stories from his colleagues.

            That said, I did not work with him, so I will be willing to stand corrected. But for the time being I stand by what I said.

          • stanley says:

            That is my understanding as well. Absolute ass to work with

          • Randall says:

            You are spot on on Bud.

  • Stanley says:

    They picked the guy from the frickin “Hong Kong Philharmonic” when they had guys from the LA Phil, Pittsburgh Symphony, and SFFO audition?

    • MacroV says:

      There are great players everywhere. You have to get a job where one is available.

    • CurlyQ111 says:

      Nobody from the LA Phil auditioned.

      • doris says:

        He sat in as Principal Trumpet, I assumed that means he was interested?

        • CurlyQ111 says:

          He was interested in sitting in as principal, not becoming their principal. 🙂

          • Jon says:

            Oh, he was interested, they just weren’t interested in him. Same with mark inouye.

          • ChrlyQ111 says:

            No he was not interested. I’d know very well since I’m married to him. He turned down the offers to audition and be placed straight into finals. He’s very happy in LA.

          • jon says:

            In that case, I’ll accept your word :X

            I don’t understand why you’d pass up an opportunity to play in that historic chair but that’s just me.

          • Anon says:

            Not saying this was the reason, but LA & SF are the 2 highest paying orchs in the US. Much higher salary than Chicago. Winters are a lot nicer, too! 🙂

          • Stanley says:

            And check the cost of living expenses 🙂

          • CurlyQ111 says:

            Many factors. Having a brass section that is incredibly good and supportive of each other, being in one of the most cutting edge current orchestras, having a family that has uprooted several times and is happy in LA, having a wife that has a job at USC teaching trumpet and is an established freelancer in LA, passing up the big amount of movie/recording he does, living in warm weather, having a music director that he loves, and so on. Just because it’s a “historic chair” doesn’t mean the whole package is better, it’s just different. And I’m from Chicago, played in Civic, studied under Bud/Hagstrom, so I understand the legacy of Bud and the CSO since it was my upbringing! But LA is doing progressive and innovative things, and that can be very fulfilling to be part of an orchestra like that. CSO is amazing, but so is the LA Phil, it’s apples to oranges!

          • Tromba in F says:

            Jen FTW

          • CurlyQ111 says:


    • Bruce says:

      Since you know nothing about the world of music, maybe an analogy from the world of sports would make sense:

      “They picked the guy from the frickin New Orleans Pelicans when they could have had someone from the Warriors or the Raptors?” (Well, if that’s where Zion Williamson is working, that’s where you get him from.)

      • steve says:

        I don’t agree. If a guy was so incredibly talented, he’d be in a better orchestra than the Hong Kong Philharmonic by 35 years old.

        • Anon says:

          Exactly. And the orchestra in Spain where he played before that – Granada – is not even a “B” catagory orchestra. It’s one of the lesser orchs in Spain and would be like a “C” regional orchestra in the US.

          He has no musical education outside of Spain. His only teachers were in his hometown and home region. He played in the National Youth Orchestra of Spain and from there won the job in Granada, where he promoted himself online and in social media like nobody’s business. It looks like he did a few guest gigs outside of Spain and at that point probably decided he needed more international experience and I suspect for that reason took the Hong Kong job.

          Looking at his bio I am bewildered as to how he was appointed to CSO. Even by Spanish standards he is poorly qualified. He has no experience in any of the top Spanish orchs, he never studied outside of Spain (this is almost obligatory for young Spanish players now) and his last job was in Hong Kong, which is a “starter” orchestra for younger players.

          He does excel at promoting himself. In Granada, he’d video his performances and circulate them online endlessly. They weren’t esp. noteworthy but he posted lots of them. Other players in Spain were watching this and going like “WTF. Who is this guy and why is he doing this?” Now I guess we know.

          It’s a total mystery to me why CSO chose this guy. I seriously think they need to hold more auditions.

          Here’s his bio:

          • Jon says:

            I am baffled as well why they would choose someone with so little top-tier experience.

          • Gardyloo says:

            Indeed. It’s a shame they don’t invite a few blowhards from the slipped disc comment section to screen resumes.

    • Randall says:

      The CSO brass section is unique and few brass players, no matter how “good,” can fit in to produce their legendary sound. Esteban Batallán appears to be pulling it off with aplomb. I knew Bud Herseth for years professionally and personally. Batallán is an able successor.

  • Axl says:

    Huge Congrats to Mr. Batallan! When he will be official tenured member of CSO – then everything is fine – at least some time.
    Then CSO must be start looking new associate principal horn and replacements for all low brass section members, because they all five are in retirement age.
    But now when principal horn and principal trumpet chairs + principal gaps in woodwind section are filled – now CSO has a perfect situation. Well done CSO!

    • stanley says:

      I can only think of one low brass player who really needs to go based on the fall of his playing. Why would you suggest they all need to go?

      • Axl says:

        They all are over 60:s and in Europe – it’s a mandatory retirement age. But in America, anyone can play in orchestra as long as he/she wants. But I think that they are played three decades together so they might want retire in same time and because they are mans is same age (ecxept Mr. Friedman). And anyways – some day will come the day when CSO has to think a good successors of these legends. That was the idea what I mean write my former comment.

        • stanley says:

          I do think you are partly right. Clevenger and Herseth played in the CSO about 10 years longer then their playing deserved but no one wanted to say that they sounded like garbage because they were so great for so long. But I think it’s a case by case basis.

        • Anonimus says:

          Afaik, mandatory retirement in Germany and Austria is 65. Italy and Spain moved up their retirement age to 67, but it isn’t mandatory.

        • Anon says:

          There is no “mandatory retirement age” in most European orchestras. You can retire at 65 or 67 (earlier in France) but it’s not mandatory. There is actually a financial incentive to work past that age in many cases. You receive a higher pension for any time you keep working after retirement age.

          • Mike says:

            Not true! In Germany one must retire when reaching the age limit unless an exception is granted to continue (very rare).

  • Yapp says:

    This is a dumb rule to enforce on this excellent musician. Esteban was a finalist at the previous audition and has already played as CSO’s principal trumpet for at least 12 weeks with Muti – including on their Asian tour. If he had done an unsatisfactory job they would not have given him 2 more weeks.

    • forest says:

      Such a short memory. Boston hired Schlueter because he was the greatest trumpet player Ozawa ever heard and 2 years later he wanted him fired. Philadelphia hired Kaderabek and was soon dissatisfied with his playing. An audition is much different than holding a job for years.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      It might be the agreement that the orchestra has about recruitment.

  • Mark Huppert says:

    They have made this guy jump through a ridiculous number of hoops. He’s already played for Muti numerous times in the CSO and probably at La Scala too.

  • Mick the Knife says:

    Congratulations to him after such a long audition process!

  • The One and Only Anon says:

    He’s the Monet of trumpet players, he wields the trumpet like a paint brush, so many colors, so expressive.

    • Doug says:

      …with a paintbrush so large you can cover an entire bulldozer factory in one stroke.

      • Anon says:

        Yep. Exactly. Born and bred in his village band, where Spanish brass players get their start. They learn early to play loud to drown out traffic and church bells in Semana Santa processions. It never goes away.

  • Anon says:

    I would love to see a Spanish orchestra hire, or even consider hiring a US Principal Trumpet. It will never happen.

    It’s a double standard. Spanish musicians are fine accepting jobs in the US. Everyone in Spain thinks that this is just great. But when it comes time to consider US musicians for Spanish orchestras, they shut the door.

    There are work-arounds to work restrictions for non EUs which would allow US musicians to be hired, but Spain does not want this. They give Spaniards ultimate preference and if it’s absolutely necessary, will consider other EU candidates. If you’re from the US, you’re lucky if you are even allowed to audition. Why isn’t the US protecting their orchestra positions like this?

    Can anyone not see this enormous double standard? Why are US orchestras welcoming foreign players into key positions in major orchestras, overlooking qualified US talent while most European orchestras will never reciprocate and even consider American candidates?

    Spain is possibly the worst in this respect. They are extraordinarily nationalistic. Spain feels perfectly justified and entitled to have its citizens occupying top paying orchestra positions in the US, but the thought of an American holding a position in a Spanish orchestra is apalling to them.

    The US cannot change how Spain, or any EU country hires its musicians and the biases they hold, but they can reconsider how they allocate their own jobs. US orchestras should do exactly the same as European orchestras: protect their own jobs.

    I cannot support Mr. Batallan’s appointment to the Chicago Symphony. He leaves a position not only in Hong Kong but in Granada, Spain. Granada would never in a million years hire a US or any foreign trumpet player. If Adolph Herseth himself tried to audition for Granada’s Principal Trumpet position he would be turned away.

    There are scores of well-qualified US trumpet players able and willing to play in Chicago. Mr. Batallan’s appointment means they lose work. Why is the Chicago Symphony subsidizing expensive working papers and complicated visas for a Spanish player when there are equally or better qualified US candidates? Is he truly so extraordinary that he is worth it? Look at his cv, his education, his experience, who he is. Listen to him. I honestly do not think so.

    If US orchestras do not hire and defend the interests of US musicians, no one else is going to.

    • Kelly says:

      Sounds like a Trump rant

      • Anon says:

        Yeah, I guess it kinda does which is unfortunate since I can’t stand him. But it actually has nothing to do with Trump and everything to do with how US orchestras hire which has been a complaint of mine since long before Trump was in office.

      • Anon says:

        Look, it’s fine for US orchs to want the best players possible, regardless of nationality. I get that. But EU orchestras do not work that way. They protect their jobs for their own players.

        A Spanish orchestra is pretty much never going to hire an American Principal Trumpet, no matter how great they are. That in mind, US orchestras have to be more aware of international hiring practices. Because of the lack of reciprocity in EU orchs, they are eliminating prospects for their own players every time they hire an EU candidate.

        Most of all, there needs to be more understanding from the general public in Spain and other EU countries that as long as Spanish players are being hired in the US, it should be equally OK for US players to work in Spain and the EU. Right now it definitely is not.

        US players are usually not even allowed to be considered for EU orch jobs, and if they are fortunate enough to hold them, there is a lot of bias and discrimination against them.

        Acceptance of foreign musicians is not a strong suit in Spain. It wasn’t under Franco either. Despite a decade long window in the 90’s with new EU funding for orchs and the efforts of such greats as Raphael Fruhbeck de Burgos which encouraged the entry of foreign musicians, it is now back to the Franco era with respect to orchestral hiring in Spain: non-Spaniards not welcome. And somehow it is OK in the minds of Spaniards right now (and Americans, too, apparently) for a Spaniard to be appointed to the Chicago Symphony. This makes no sense to me.

        • Mick the Knife says:

          The same is true in academia. The us is the only place that hires foreigners, unless you are at the very top.

    • The Once and Future Anon says:

      I know, I know, let’s impose a tariff on foreign musicians.

      • Anon says:

        Newsflash: it’s already there. You think the working papers and visas required to hire a foreign player are free?

    • Sandwich says:

      Obviously, you have never heard Mr Batallán play before. He is a rare treasure and CSO is lucky to have him.

      • Anon says:

        Why do Americans invariably believe that anything or anyone that isn’t American is more likely to be rare and a treasure?

        This is exactly why US conductors are never given opportunities in their own country.

    • Luis Carlos Amaral Santos Leite says:

      only listen

      • guest says:

        I don’t hear anything in that excerpt that is particularly noteworthy. I’m not saying it is bad but what makes that unique compared to dozens of other players?

      • Anon says:

        Dear Luis,

        No, YOU listen, please. Here, for example, is Ansel Norris, one random American trumpet player. There are hundreds more.

        He is a brilliant player. He studied in Chicago and has subbed with the CSO.

        He was a finalist at the Tchaikovsky Competition last month. He is lucky to have a job in a US orchestra. He plays with the Naples, Florida Philharmonic. It’s a regional orchestra without a full season and paying probably less than $50K a year. He is the Asst. Principal/2nd trumpet there. Principal Trumpet in Chicago is a prestigious position which pays maybe 4 times that.

        So you tell us, Luis – is Esteban Batallan truly so extraordinarily much better than someone like the American trumpet player Ansel Norris? Shouldn’t Ansel and his family or any other US trumpet player and their family have a chance at that opportunity?

        • Mick the Knife says:

          I listened to both recordings. In my opinion, Esteban’s sound and style would fit well in the CSO. Based on the Mahler 5, he has that Bud-like intensity in his playing. There are a lot of great trumpet players – solid, lyrical players like in the recording you offer – who have come out of Northwestern. If he should be playing at a higher level than Naples, he surely will be in the future. I will say this, you could hear Tom Stevens play solos in his early days as principal of the LAPO and he had the weight and presence of a principal trumpet in his sound.

      • Marko says:

        That could have been any Principal Trumpet in any of the top 25 or even 50 orchestras in the country when they are playing well

      • AL says:

        I have heard the Principal Trumpet in the Fort Worth Philharmonic play as good as that… Not a difficult excerpt for a good player

      • Mick the Knife says:

        He sounds like a CSO principal trumpet. Its absolutely great playing with the intensity of Herseth.

    • emmkay says:

      US Orchestras do blind auditions. They hire the most qualified. As a result US orchestras > Spanish orchestras. If you want to be nationalistic in your hiring practices you are welcome to continue playing on a substandard level and watch your best players emigrate.

    • Mark Huppert says:

      The CSO can only stay great if it insists on hiring the best available talent on the planet. The CSO is a world orchestra that just happens by chance to be located in the USA.

      • Anon says:

        A symphony orchestra should be a refection of the community it serves. How does Mr. Batallan’s presence reflect or represent in any way the citizens and community of Chicago?

    • ML says:

      Apparently you have not been in the Orchestra Hall week after week listening to all these guest trumpeters. I, for one, really admire Mr. Batallan’s performances.

    • Anonimus says:

      You are mistaken. The former principal trumpets of the Orquesta Sinfonica de Barcelona are American, so that’s two right there. The former principal of theReal Orquesta de Sevilla is American, as well as the former principal of the Sinfonica de Valladolid. The only American who is playing principal that I know of is working in the Sinfonica de Galicia in La Coruna. I’m not mentioning the other Americans working all over Spain who are playing other instruments whether it be principal or section.

      As far as Americans finding work in Spain now, you are correct. They aren’t being invited to auditions. But this is the case all over the EU. The law requires that all countries in the EU have open auditions that allow EU members to attend. Americans could still find work in the EU if nobody suitable is Found, which isn’t likely, being that Euope is overflowing with fine players.

      Another point is that sometimes orchestra jobs are civil sevice jobs. That is the case in Italy. So you would need citizenship either inItaly or the EU even to apply for these jobs. In the US it is the same. You won’t get a civil service job as a foreigner, as far as I know. Sometimes you are required to speak the local dialect, which means they can weed out applicants that aren’t from their region.

      If you have a beef, take it up with the CSO. They are the ones that hired Esteban.

      • Anonimus says:

        Ironically, Esteban is from Galicia, and the principal trumpet position as I mentioned above in the Sinfonica de Galicia is American.

        • Anon says:

          Yes, and he has been there since the orchestra began in what, 1992?

          Did it ever occur to anyone that maybe that American Principal trumpet in OSG, which is Esteban’s home region, who has been there for nearly 30 years, and a fairly renowned player, might have been influential in helping Esteban achieve his Chicago goal?

          Unfortunately, Spain will never see it that way. They will never recognize that there might be value in having Americans in their orchestras.

      • Anon says:

        Hello, Anonimus,

        Every single one of the Americans you mention was hired during the “window” during the 90’s that I mentioned when foreigners were allowed freely into Spanish orchestras. They got “fijo” (tenured) during that time and have stayed.

        No new Americans have been in allowed into Spanish orchestras for at least 10 years. There is discrimination and prejudice against many of them, especially those holding prominent chairs, which Spaniards tend to resent. The case of the American who was Principal Trumpet in OBC (who is African American) is especially troubling. He was beaten and harassed and fled Spain in fear of his life. Yes, he was hired. Was he accepted? No, in fact in was nearly killed.

        You’re correct: in OSG there are 2 American trumpets. They both came back in the 90’s and have stayed. There is a pocket of Americans in that orch., probably the biggest in Spain. They came when Victor Pablo Perez was MD, and like Fruhbeck de Burgos, he was an outspoken advocate of hiring foreign musicians. He was severely censored – and is to this day – by many Spanish musicians for this. These OSG musicians are all in their fifties, have been there since the 90’s and there is safety in numbers. They are all superb players who graduated from top US conservatories. They survive because they are all fijo and they are a group.

        Yes, there are other Americans scattered thruout other Spanish orchestras. They all came in the 90’s. They have worked there for decades and it’s not always easy for them. There is plenty of discrimination and prejudice. As an American, you are expected to jump higher, dance faster, be better and stronger than anyone else. Yes, there is an influx of bright new Spanish talent orchestrally. So at age 50+ these Americans must now defend themselves professionally againt new Spanish conservatory grads half their age. There is no consideration for cultural or age differences. The question is always “why isn’t a Spaniard doing your job?”

        It never seems to occur to anyone in Spain that it might be OK for Americans to be working in their country, since there are plenty of Spaniards – like Esteban Batallan – who are working in the US, and receiving salaries which are about 4 times greater than any orch job in Spain. It’s a double standard, a big blind spot for every Spaniard. It’s OK for Spaniards to work in the US but it is not OK for Americans to work in Spain.

        Spain is not going to change. Spain is not interested in cultural diversity or hiring or maintaining the best players in the world. They do not value the wisdom or new perspective or skills that a foreign player might bring in.They only want Spaniards in their orchs. The EU will continue protecting their own nationals who seek orch. positions.

        So yes, you’re right, the only recourse is for American orchestras, like the CSO, to reconsider their hiring practices. That’s exactly why I am speaking out here.

    • Guest says:

      Actually, you have made a good point, whether you get booed or not.

      • Anon says:

        Thank you. I know I have, too.

        The booing is a very knee-jerk reaction from people who do not understand how orch. hiring practices differ in the US and the EU. It has nothing to do with Trump. Europeans are not some rare musical species that should be coddled in the US. They have their own fine orchs in the EU and they generally guard those jobs for their own citizens. They come to the US because orch salaries are dramatically higher since US orchs are all privately funded. Until there is total reciprocity in orchestral hiring the US should limit EU hires.

        Here’s an example of how important reciprocity is to Europeans: there’s a plan coming down the pipeline right now which will require US citizens to hold travel visas to visit any EU country. This is going to be a major pain in the ***.Why is the EU doing this? Because the US requires visas for citizens of certain EU countries (ie Poland) when visiting the US. The EU is saying: this is how you treat us, this is how we will treat you.

        And we need to do exactly the same with respect to orchestral hiring. As long as the EU limits American hires, the US should limit EU hires. If we do not protect our own orchestra jobs, our conservatory graduates have no opportunities. They have very few places to play besides their own country. Classical music in the US will become a non-American art form subsidized by Americans, with very little relevance to US society or culture.

        It’s not always about choosing the best player at auditions. It’s about choosing the best player for that orchestra, for that community. US orchestras should consider a little “Affirmative Action”, IMHO, to make sure that US players are included.

        There are certain key orch. positions in the US which have always exemplified the best of the US orchestra tradition. Principal Oboe in Phila is one. Principal Trumpet in Chicago is another.

        We are giving those key positions away to foreign players who have no knowledge or respect for the history of the seats they occupy. American orchestra tradition is dissolving before our eyes.

        EU players are laughing all the way to the bank. As a consolation prize you’d think that at least American players would be welcome in their orchestras, which pay a fraction of US salaries. No, somehow it’s OK for Europeans to play in the US but not the other way around. Go figure. . .

        • Mark Huppert says:

          This is really nothing new, but here’s a reminder for young American music students:

          Herseth’s main teachers were French trumpet players in the Boston Symphony.

          Marcel Tabuteau, from France, invented the American oboe sound through his influential students during his tenure with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Curtis.

          Daniel Bonade, from Switzerland, did the same thing for the American clarinet sound at Philly, CBS and Cleveland.

          Countless European and Asian string players have always had positions in US orchestras.

          Top-level conductors of USA orchestras have almost all been non-American.

          • Anon says:

            Absolutely. You make excellent points. It was thru the legacy of those great European players – Tabuteau, Bonade, Laurent in Boston – that the American orchestral tradition was established. Now that we finally have a tradition of our own, why are we letting it dissipate so readily?

        • Gardyloo says:

          I truly couldn’t care less about European hiring practices.

    • Anon says:

      I was one of many US brass players invited to Spain in the early 90s to play trumpet in full time Spanish orchestras. I worked there more than a dozen years and some are still there 30 yrs later. There are, in fact, many US trumpet players that have been and are still in Spain, including two in Mr Batallon’s hometown orchestra in La Coruña, Americans trained at Eastman and Juilliard whom have been in the Galicia orchestra since the 90s. My former students from where I was in Spain now occupy major positions in Spain and other countries. Just like the NBA, excellence is excellence. CSO should have the best. I am back in the US, now training the next generation and am thrilled at Battallon’s appointment. The US brass players made a difference in Spain for a generation and he will make a difference here. It is more difficult now because of EU, but the best will always want the best. I am glad he will come to Chicago.

    • Don’t be stupid... says:

      …I just found out that the Granada Orchestra has an American Principal Cello, so…
      What are your feelings now with Batalan appointment?

  • Don’t be an idiot, come on... says:

    Anyone can audition and win it. Surely in Spain there are many of our people working long time ago…

  • Tromba in F says:

    I don’t know Mr. Batallan, but there is no doubt that he is a remarkable player. One simply does not earn an appointment like this without impressing a whole bunch of wonderful musicians and fellow brass players. He may not be of the same mold of previous CSO principal trumpets, but he knows his way around the horn. Whether it is a good match over the long term will be borne out over time. The CSO brass has changed considerably since the departures of Mr. Herseth and Mr. Clevenger and will no doubt continue to do so. To my ears, the section has achieved a much more tame and blended sound from top to bottom in recent years. This started with Chris Martin’s appointment and it has been a good thing. I believe some folks held on a bit too long and it had a negative impact on the section sound. Mr. Batallan’s sound is colorful, unforced, and exciting and I look forward to hearing how the section evolves around him.

    • Rusty says:

      Martin was really the initiation of the transformation of the CSO brass sound. I personally don’t like it. His arrival really turned them into a tame and rather uninteresting sounding section–even more so now that Clevenger is gone. Almost as if they were afraid to play louder than mf. You could once differentiate the CSO brass from everybody else but now you wouldn’t be able to tell who they are without being told.

  • Anon says:

    So as a practical question, since many readers here support Mr. Batallan’s appointment and the unconditional hiring of foreign players into US orchestras, where should US players work?

  • AL says:

    Didn’t Mark Ridenour want the chair? He sounded as good as any of the players that auditioned and certainly wouldn’t have required a stupid trial period

    • Musician says:

      Ridenour did want it 15 years ago. He auditioned and should have won it then, but Barenboim stupidly wouldn’t give him the job. Now (at age 60) he’s probably more interested in retirement.

  • Dean says:

    I appreciate all the comments, the passion, the implicit racism, the judgements, the “can Spanish play the trumpet??” (wow, I am amazed at the stupid); can I please point out the obvious: WHAT CSO ANNOUNCEMENT?

    • Anon says:

      Dean, forgive me, but it’s an ignorant Americanism to see this situation as racist. Spain is Europe, and produces fine musicians comparable to those from France or Germany or any other EU nation. I haven’t seen anyone here question Mr. Batallan’s ability because he is Spanish except for you.

      It’s bewildering to Spaniards and to anyone else who’s lived there that a Hispanic person would be considered a different race. That is a 100% American interpretation. It does not translate at all.

      There is a surprising level of ignorance with many Americans both culturally and geographically about Spain. Madrid is not in Mexico. Mexico is not an extension of Spain or vice versa. Nor is Spain culturally synonamous with South American countries. Questioning a Spaniard’s appointment to CSO has nothing to do with Trump or border walls or racism. Spain is part of the EU, they produce superb musicians and they have many fine orchestras of their own which rival US orchs’ quality. Most Europeans consider themselves culturally superior to Americans and Spain is not much of an exception to that. They are not keen on allowing Americans into their orchs and the question at hand is if the US should admit European players like Mr. Batallan without reciprocity hiring US players in the EU. It has nothing to do with his ability.

      That being said, I agree completely with you that this news about this appointment is coming from Mr. Batallan’s own camp not the CSO. He is a one man PR machine for himself. He has created for himself a big social media presence which draws, I’m sure on young South American fans who are very internet savvy and famous for rallying in great nos. around public figures and causes they support. We’ve seen a couple of them in this thread, and they are ardent fans of Mr. Batallan.

      Hopefully, CSO, in making the final decision, won’t be deciding on social media popularity or the quantity of videos and interviews and self-promotion Mr. Batallan is producing for himself.

  • Dean says:

    News appears to be coming out of Mr. Batallan’s camp. CSO has said nothing. (I would hope focus would be on securing the wonderful Mr. Nowlin as principal viola, since he has been magnificent and “looked and sounded very much at home” according to CCR.) If Batallan really wants to succeed in this job, and I want the trumpet position filled ably!, keep your head down, don’t do PR and play your ass off. Period.

  • Anon says:

    OK, so the proof is in the pudding. A trumpet position (Asst. Principal) has just been announced this week in Granada, Mr. Batallan’s old orchestra. Here are the requisites:

    Now that Mr. Batallan is occupying a top US trumpet position, it seems fair that US trumpet players should be allowed to audition for Granada.

    It’s possible but they don’t make it easy. Let’s take a look at what Spanish orchs require of THEIR foreign candidates. Each orch. in Spain differs, but Granada spells out their expectations clearly.

    You have to have a Spanish or EU working permit already. I’m confident that CSO arranged and paid for that for Mr. Batallan so he could work with them. In Spain, foreigners have to obtain and pay for that themselves. If they can even get one, that is. Granada sure isn’t going to pay for it.

    Granada requires proof of advanced conservatory studies. If those studies are done outside of Spain or the EU, transcripts have to be “homologenized” or translated and equated into Spanish conservatory equivalents. Anyone who’s tried to do this knows it takes months or years. Not all Spanish orchs require this homologenization. It’s an extra filter, IMHO, to make it difficult for foreigners to apply.

    Furthermore, they automatically give any candidate with experience in the Spanish National Youth Orchestra or the top EU Youth Orchs which admit Spaniards, a bonus point in the application procedure. Interestingly, they don’t offer the bonus point for candidates with experience in the youth orchs of other EU nations, only Spain’s.

    There are plenty of other restrictions in place. A clever American could probably work around them. Someone who’s already working in Spain or the EU, for example. But you can see that it’s not too likely that an average American trumpeter could even get into this audition. Meanwhile, Mr. Batallan, who recently left this orchestra is having the red carpet rolled out for him by CSO. This is not reciprocity.

  • Axl says:

    We must remember that the job is principal trumpet of Chicago Symphony – maybe the world best trumpet position – so CSO and Mut doesn’t hire anyone to this post. We should be grateful that CSO finds a qualified musician quite quickly (I don’t like many years searching prosess) so the orchestra can soon continue with full section.
    Remember that Mr. Batallan must to do trial year so the decision isn’t permanent yet. And if it doensn’t work, CSO can hire someone other to principal trumpet. And I think that we all must support Mr. Batallan. This is his dream job and if/when he passed his trial, he (in my mind) 99% would stay this post until he’s going to retire – like Bud did.
    So now good luck to him, do your dream job well and enjoy making music with CSO!

  • CSO fan says:

    Being a CSO subscriber who has heard Mr. Batallan play as a guest in numerous concerts, I came to the conclusion that he is definitely the real deal.

    I remember having the following thoughts while listening to him perform:
    1.) Man… who is this awesome trumpeter? (and how do we get him to join the CSO?)
    2.) Ok… how is this guy able to sound like Bud?
    3.) He blends perfectly with the CSO brass section and with the entire orchestra.
    4.) Great melodic phrasing.
    5.) Lots of brilliant overtones.
    6.) I wonder when he’s coming back so I could get another listen.

    He won the open audition for a top global trumpeter spot – it’s what comes out of the bell that wins the job – enough said, and well-deserved for him!

  • Dean says:

    Any statement “from the CSO” would never have included the text that Batallan is “required to perform IN (my emphasis) the orchestra…” Clearly a language issue and not a release that came from the CSO, who would refer to any artist performing WITH the ensemble.

    And what principal appointment comes with a two-week audition? I applaud Sr. Batallan’s ambition, and wish him luck. But he is not the CSO’s principal — at least not yet.