My Music. My Story. is one of Classical Music Indy’s new initiatives to feature music, musicians, and music lovers in a fun way. We spoke with 24-year old Eric Salazar, a freelance clarinetist and private instructor, to hear about his passions, dreams, and excitement about Classical Music.
Children dream, children hope. As a child, imagination is wild and anything can come from it. Soaring through the air on a park’s swing set can cause you to dream about becoming an astronaut and flying to the moon one day or sculpting a sandcastle can spur excitement about growing up to become an architect. For young Eric Salazar, watching Tom and Jerry as a kid inspired him to become a musician. The fast-paced animated cat and mouse game captivated him by the melody of the clarinet in show’s musical score and he thought, “That! I want to do that!”
Eric says, “Tom and Jerry uses a lot of classical music in the background. I remember hearing all of the classics like Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, and the list goes on and on.”
From the Sandbox to the Stage
In 6th grade, Eric picked up the clarinet as his instrument of choice. He was captivated since then. As he reached his Junior year of high school, Eric was chosen as a bass clarinet soloist in a Jazz Band.
“Band was always something that I just did for fun,” he says. “I never thought I could actually be good. I never thought ‘I’m so good at this, I’ll be a musician!'”
But, he did. It all started with one moment one performance. Eric recalls a performance during a Brownsburg High School concert. Following the concert, his band director addressed the crowd. Eric remembers his words, saying, “This is band is really special. They were awarded the ‘Judge’s Choice’ award at the Purdue Jazz Festival this year. And I gotta tell ya, I really think that we got that award because of our bass clarinet soloist, Eric Salazar. The judges loved him.”
Cheers ensued. A vibrant and excited applause erupted from the crowd: his family, friends and fellow bandmates. Not knowing what to do, Eric simply stood up and waved.
“I was so taken aback that I started shaking,” Eric says. “The memory of this moment still brings chills to me. I never thought I could be good. Then all of a sudden, being good was a possibility. Shortly after this experience I decided: “I can do this for the rest of my life.”
Eric went on to earn his Bachelor’s degree in Music Performance from Ball State University studying with Dr. Elizabeth Crawford and following that, he studied at Bowling Green State University, under the instruction of Professor Kevin Schempf, where he earned the degree of Master of Music in Clarinet Performance.
The Performing Sensation
Eric said that performing feels different for everyone, but for him, he can summarize his feeling into one sentence: performing music feels like freedom.
To him, “Performing music expends physical, mental, and emotional energy. You physically play the instrument, you think, and you express deep feelings. It’s like running a marathon while taking an SAT exam and having the most emotional conversation of your life all at once,” he says.
Eric’s Music & Hopes for the future
In the music sphere, Eric doesn’t feel Classical Music ties him down, rather, it allows him to become a better musician. He’s participated in a range of Classical, Contemporary Classical, Experimental, Improvisatory, Jazz, Indie, Acoustic and Singer-Songwriting genres.
“I love chamber music and I like playing in orchestras, but I have made sure to develop a versatile style of playing,” he says. “I learn new ideas from each genre. Being a classical musician is simply a category of musician. I do specialize in Classical and Contemporary Classical, but I actually find that participating in “non-classical” styles helps me become a better musician.”
In addition, Eric composes his own music, fusing and meshing different styles together. His artistry, heavily influenced by classical compositions, incorporates elements of Jazz, Throat-Singing, Celtic, Turkish, and more.
“In 5 years, I will have started my own genre defying chamber ensemble,” he says. “I will be established as a reliable orchestra player. I will also be established as an artist capable of playing shows inside and outside of the recital hall.”
Where is he now?
Currently, Eric is a freelance clarinetist. He pursues independent performance projects and actively seek opportunities to collaborate with other musicians. Eric is a member of the Indiana Wind Symphony, resident ensemble at the Palladium in Carmel. He is a private instructor with a sizable private studio of clarinet students and teaches in the Avon, Brownsburg, Indianapolis, and Fishers areas. In addition, he works for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra as the ISO Association Assistant in the ISO’s Department of Development.