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By Jonathan Martinez

Growing up with three older brothers in the school band, I was always surrounded by music and wanted to know more about what it meant to be a musician. Fast forward a couple years, and here I am standing at the Gates of Ravinia with my younger brother to meet up with CMPI fellows, families, and navigators. We started the evening by socializing and enjoying a tasty lunch on the lawn. I met some new fellows and even talked to a parent about the importance of diversity in the world of classical music.

After that, we headed over to the pavilion to do a meet and greet with the great conductor Miguel Prieto. I learned that being a conductor doesn’t mean standing and conducting an orchestra; it’s a very serious craft that involves lots of emotion and having no bias or prejudice when it comes to music. My younger brother and I felt very inspired by his words, not just because he was an amazing conductor, but because he was one of us. He is Mexican and doesn’t forget about his roots or his people. He would go on to say he would dedicate the last piece in the performance to us.

Now comes the performance. There I am in the Ravinia Pavilion with my younger brother who can’t sit still because he’s too excited to watch his first live orchestra performance with the Chicago Symphony. We finally got situated and the performance started. Both of us are blown away at how stylistically correct the Chicago Symphony is playing these Hispanic pieces and that had a lot to do with Maestro Prieto’s influence. As for the last piece, Maestro Prieto kept his promise. He dedicated El Huapango de Moncayo to us and kids in an affiliate program. It really filled me with joy to see someone of my culture and heritage making it that far and diversifying the stand.

As far as my question about what it means to be a musician, I think my answer will only keep changing. Maestro Prieto showed me that being a musician comes from the heart. Being a musician means having integrity. Not just with the music you play but with yourself and your teachers. And that being a musician means never forgetting your roots or your people.

From meeting the conductor and learning more about his job, to watching the Chicago Symphony perform, the CMPI kickoff event at Ravinia was a very enjoyable and transformative experience.


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