Meet Sheboygan Symphony’s New Latin American Music Director

SHEBOYGAN – A symphony orchestra can do “just about anything”, says Ernesto Estigarribia.

“It’s not limited to playing, you know, Beethoven symphonies or this or that. He can do rock and roll, he can do country music, you can do a salsa band out of it,” he said.

Estigarribia was appointed next Music Director of Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra in June after a two-year process narrowed a field of more than 100 applicants for location.

Originally from Paraguay, Estigarribia is “Midwestern by choice” and has conducted symphonies throughout the United States as well as in Argentina and Paraguay.

The first concert of the symphony’s 104th season, titled “A New Beginning,” is Saturday.

Sheboygan’s devotion to the arts attracted Estigarribia, he said

Music Director Ernesto Estigarribia, on the podium, conducts the Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra during rehearsal at the Stefanie H. Weill Center for the Performing Arts, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, in Sheboygan, Wis.

The music director is the conductor and “artistic authority” of an orchestra, Estigarribia said.

It will select the music the symphony will play, bring in guest artists, and decide on the format of the performances, such as using the full orchestra or small ensembles.

“So in a way my role is that of a curator, but it’s also the role of someone who thinks about shaping the sound of the orchestra,” he said. “Like, how long is long? How short is short? How loud is that? Things like that.”

This season, the symphony will celebrate “tried and true” pieces that have existed in the orchestral world for centuries – but also newer, cutting-edge works that are either too new to be widely adopted or have been overlooked for some reason. , he said.

As he gets to know Sheboygan better, Estigarribia also aims to shape the music and performances in a way unique to Sheboygan County, he said.

“You know, these are things that you can only hear here, here in this part of the world,” he said. “For me, that’s part of the role of an orchestra, to deliver to the world, ‘What’s special about that – where the orchestra is based?'”

The Sheboygan Symphony is “extremely special” because it has been continuously active since 1918, he said.

“You can think, you know, we’ve had the Spanish flu pandemic to the COVID pandemic, we’ve had a few world wars and a bunch of other things, and this organization, with the support and the love of the community , was able to withstand all of these adversities and keep the music going,” he said.

“The cliché, ‘the show must go on,’ applies here better than anywhere else,” he said. “So I saw that this community had a special devotion to the arts. I think that’s part of their heritage.”

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The symphony is a space open to all. Here’s what to expect for Saturday’s concert.

Ernesto Estigarribia, Music Director of the Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra, stands outside the Stefanie H. Weill Center for the Performing Arts, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, in Sheboygan, Wis.

Estigarribia would like everyone in Sheboygan County to come to the symphony, he said.

“I understand that symphony orchestras used to have a reputation for being a club thing where you have to wear your tuxedo to come and so on,” he said. “It’s 2022. We don’t do that anymore.

“If you want to dress in khakis or jeans and come see the symphony, we will welcome you with open arms. If you decide to dress up, that’s fine. That’s the beauty of it. We have people from all walks of life coming to our concert,” he said.

The first concert of the season on Oct. 8 at the Stefanie H. Weill Center for the Performing Arts will open with a piece by Brazilian-American composer Clarice Assad, who lives in Chicago.

Pianist Michael Mizrahi – who has performed at the world’s greatest concert halls, including Carnegie Hall, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and the Chicago Cultural Center – will next perform the Piano Concerto in A minor by Edvard Grieg.

The concert will end with Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, the “most important symphony of the 20th century”, Estigarribia said.

To purchase a subscription or individual concert tickets, people can go to or call the Weill Center at 920-208-2343.

See the season brochure on

Contact Maya Hilty at 920-400-7485 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @maya_hilty.

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