YOUNG CHILEAN GUITARIST EXPANDS HORIZONS DURING U.S. TRIP
“He is a rare talent here and plays so well that he could already have an agent and be touring,” gushed Whitehead, himself a masterful classical and flamenco guitarist. “I have only been working with Cristóbal now for a few weeks, but I must say he is the most talented 17-year-old classical guitarist I have met in 20 years. His repertoire is extensive and varied and one that he plays with command.”
- Dr. Corey Whitehead.
Cristobal Selame is a talented Chilean classical guitar player who is starting to open eyes in both his home country and in the U.S.
“I would like to be a world-class classical guitarist and perform throughout the world,” he says. “I have grown in my appreciation of this beautiful instrument and its ability to transcend cultures and languages, and I would like to share the beauty of classical music with the millions of people who do not know about all the emotions the music can generate in you.
Selame has been in the United States since December. What started as simply a vacation has become much more, starting when Selame was introduced to Dr. Corey Whitehead of California State University, Fresno and began studying with Whitehead, who teaches classical and flamenco guitar classes at the college.
It didn't take Whitehead long to become a big supporter of Selame's.
Selame had planned to study guitar at the University of Chile, but Whitehead encouraged him to broaden his horizons and expand his college options. Whitehead connected him to renowned classical guitarist David Tanenbaum, the chair of the classical guitar department at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. The conservatory also counts legendary Brazilian classical guitarist Sergio Assad among its faculty members.
Cristobal got accepted at the SFCM (San Francisco Conservatory of Music) to study with Sergio Assad
“While Chile has a proud tradition of classical guitar, I knew I would have to leave my country and become a citizen of the world to truly explore my craft and meet my potential, and the conservatory appears to be to have the right philosophy to allow me to prepare for a career as a musician.”
As a native of Chile, Selame is very aware of the music of the Assad Brothers, composed of Sergio Assad and his brother Odair. He is also aware of the greatness of Tanenbaum and of the excellent reputation of Marc Teicholz, Lawrence Ferrera and Richard Savino, the other guitar teachers at the conservatory.
His father taught him for about three years before he stopped playing. He continued listening to classical guitar music, but didn't play guitar again until he was 13.
“One day I said to myself, I am going to learn the prelude of the Suite No. 1 by Bach, but I wasn't thinking about a career or anything like that,” recalls Selame. “So I learned the piece and worked hard to make it sound good.”
Selame had found his passion, and he wasn't about to let it go.
“After one month, I knew that this was what I truly liked, and this time I wasn't going to leave the guitar again,” said Selame.
After learning the Bach piece, Selame started taking private classes with Jaime Calisto, who teaches at a Santiago music conservatory, Escuela Moderna de Musica.
“I started playing the guitar again, from the beginning,” said Selame. “We went through some studies from Fernando Sor, Emilio Puyol, Mateo Carcassi, Mauro Guiliani and learning some repertoire pieces from Francisco Tarrega, Joao Pernambuco, Heitor Villa-lobos and Agustin Barrios.
“I knew that if I wanted to be a great guitar player, I would have to study a lot and work hard on it. So I was 14 and I started working really hard on the instrument, working on the technique of my right and left hand, learning new pieces and getting into the classical music world. I also started playing on every occasion in which I could, like in the concerts at my school, playing recitals in other conservatories, and also playing with other people.”
He also has taken private classes with other teachers. Mostly, though, Selame is self-taught, preferring to spend hours working on new pieces from a growing list of composers.
“When it is just you and the guitar speaking to the audience and expressing feelings – there is a connection that is unique and that can't be found in any other way.”
Cristóbal Selame, Classical Guitar