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Trombonist Hugo Saavedra is exceptionally busy, even by musician standards. Not only does he perform in ensembles including the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Kalamazoo Symphony, and others in the area, but he is also an active teacher, coach, and mentor in a number of programs, including the Chicago Arts and Music Project, the People’s Music School, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, El Sistema Ravinia, and CMPI, where he serves as a mentor for five fellows.

hugo with tromboneHe began trombone in Colombia at age twelve with teacher Saul Rodriguez at the Conservatorio de Ibagué. “I was lucky to have many people that supported me and helped me during my career. My first teacher, Saul Rodriguez, gave me that connection with the instrument and what the trombone is about.” After studying music in Colombia and playing in the Bogota Youth Philharmonic and Colombia Youth Philharmonic, Hugo came to the United States for graduate level work at Northwestern University and Roosevelt University.

Regarding CMPI, Hugo says, “I heard about the program when I first came to Chicago, and I was amazed by all the work they are doing with students interested in pursuing a musical career. I was recommended by one of the programs that I teach for, El Sistema, which also has a great program that reminds me how I grew up back in Colombia.” One of his most helpful qualities is his ability to work with the large number of Spanish-speaking families in the Chicago area. “I feel that I can connect in both languages. It is great to talk to Spanish-speaking families since I can connect with them and help them to understand more about what it is to study music and the possibilities to help the mentees more.”

His five mentees are “very talented and great human beings. It is a lot of fun to get to know each mentee and not only talk about music and the program, but other things related to their favorite activities, dreams, fun facts and learn also from them. Every month we have different things to share and talk about.” He believes that CMPI, “is a great program that supports students not only musically but also with personal support,” such as the college application process. “Like every other career, music may have difficulties and CMPI helps students to navigate and succeed.”

His most important piece of advice to his mentees is to focus on their dreams while bringing their unique qualities to the instrument. “Keep dreaming, going for opportunities and practice your instrument, caring about every note you play because it comes only from YOU.”

When not practicing, performing, and teaching, Hugo enjoys spending time visiting places with his family and spending time with his seven-year-old dog Josie. You can find out even more about Hugo at his website.


Hugo Saavedra

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