Excerpt from The Oklahoman - Sunday Life Edition
By Carla Hinton, 09/15
"Education should not be just about nurturing the intellect, it should also be about nourishing the soul..."
Jose Luis Hernandez-Estrada followed his father into a rehearsal hall filled with members of a professional orchestra in Tampico, Mexico. The musicians crowded around his father, yelling “Maestro!” in their excitement to meet the piano soloist for their next performance.
His dad merely smiled and quietly led the child to a piano.
At 10 years old, Hernandez-Estrada was the acclaimed pianist the musicians awaited — much to their surprise.
“The conductor knew who the soloist was, but the musicians thought they were waiting for my father,” Hernandez-Estrada said, smiling, during a recent interview at Oklahoma City University.
That memorable moment from 1994 rose to the surface recently as Hernandez-Estrada anticipated his first season as executive director of El Sistema Oklahoma. The program, in its inaugural year, provides free orchestral music training to a group of students in third through sixth grades from six Oklahoma City public schools: Sequoyah, Linwood, Gatewood, Kaiser, Putnam Heights and Cleveland.
Hernandez-Estrada, 29, is now an internationally acclaimed pianist and classical conductor. He said sharing the gift of music with the Oklahoma youths reminds him of his childhood when he discovered music for the first time.
Also see the first article in the series: 'Kaleidoscope of sound': Students begin acclaimed after-school music program.