Jose Sibaja is a versatile performer in demand for his ability to teach and play trumpet in a variety of styles—classical, Latin, jazz and pop. Ask him what kind of music he likes best, and his answer is straightforward. “I like quality music, and quality music comes in a lot of different flavors.”
Sibaja, who joined Blair School of Music this fall as associate professor of trumpet, has traveled the world making quality music. He has served as principal/co-principal trumpet of Orquesta Sinfónica de Venezuela, Sinfonieta de Caracas, the Miami Symphony Orchestra, the West Palm Beach Symphony and the Florida Grand Opera. He has been a soloist with Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Costa Rica and, since 2006, lead trumpet of the Boston Brass.
He is a two-time Grammy and three-time Latin Grammy winner for recordings with Gloria Estefan, Luis Enrique and Elvis Crespo. He also has recorded with Ricky Martin, Alejandro Sanz, Rey Ruiz, Tito Nieves and salsa legend Celia Cruz. He performed with Martin on the Vuelve and Living la Vida Loca international concert tours.
“Ricky is one of the most positive people I’ve ever worked with,” Sibaja said, “as was Celia Cruz. She was a force of nature musically, but she was always an incredible person. She would treat you like she was your mother or grandmother. You could feel her presence in the room.”
Sibaja believes that ability to connect both as a person and as a musician are equally important goals for the Blair trumpet student.
“[rquote]It’s important to be a great person and then a great musician,” he said.[/rquote] “To be successful in this industry, you have to know how to work with others. I want my students to interact with each other and learn from each other. And I want to build a studio based on fundamentals of the trumpet. The most important thing in development as a trumpet player is having a strong set of fundamental skills.
“I want to guide my students through their journey at Vanderbilt, not dictate it,” Sibaja said. “I want to let them go for their dreams without leaving other genres of music untouched. And all of that is based on mastering the fundamentals of playing the trumpet well.”
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