I am a latino born in NYC of Colombian descent.
I am a guitarist who has been working at Wicked in the guitar 1 chair for 17 years. For the past five years I’ve been an assistant conductor of the show as well. I am the first non-pianist/guitarist to hold a staff position as assistant conductor in a major broadway show. It has given me great joy to be an inspiration to my fellow guitarists in achieving that milestone and paving the way for them to reach higher. I have a long resume producing work in various roles in music and have played on the world stage since the 1990’s.
*Big River (national tour) played the Tennessee Performing Arts Center for a week with Roger Miller… what a thrill!
*The Who’s Tommy (first national tour) Pete Townshend dubbed our band “The Great Eight.” We toured for 660 shows all over the states. I had many great hangs with Pete and John Entwistle as well as performing for a who’s who of celebrities. The enduring memory was playing “Pinball Wizard” in the the pit at the Universal Amphitheater with Aerosmith and Oliver Stone in the front row. The real thrill was looking over to see Pete hiding behind the drum booth watching us blow that tune up.
Jesus Christ Superstar was mounting in Nyack and I got a call from the musical director, Stephen Oremus. As I recall he told me to play a more aggressive book and the run was as hard and loud as we could possibly do. The cast was stupendous and it was the beginning of my friendship with Stephen who is now at the top of the food chain in this business. Near the end of the run I had a joke in the pit that I was going to leave the show and play guitar with The Spice Girls. As luck would have it during the final week of that run I got a call to play with a new vocal pop group made up of four guys.
98 Degrees is a platinum selling “Boy Band” from 1998 who rocketed to the top of the popular mainstream and stayed there for about three years. I was hired as the guitarist in the band and within six weeks I was promoted to musical director. I remained the sole director for the entire trajectory of their superstardom, hiring three separate touring groups and recording with the band. I managed all aspects of the live show from writing and arranging performances of songs, interludes, tv edits, costume change music, as well as running the entire performance on stage while playing all the guitar parts. I played stadiums with 70,000 screaming fans, talk shows, videos, MTV shows, and found myself on private jets surrounded by all the fabled excesses of that rarified lifestyle. I managed to keep it professional and the fact that they considered me family speaks to how scared I was to mess up. It was a lucky thing. I hung out with all the big names of that time and I performed in Times Square for the New Year’s Eve celebration at the turn of the century. That was a helluva party.
*Wicked on broadway. Back in 2003 I got the call to play the Wicked show. At the time the guitar 1 book was considered the hardest book on broadway. Over the past 17 years the music has held up keeping me inspired by the variety of styles, the enduring quality of those great songs and the excellence that the orchestra brings to the show every night. I sit with some of the most capable instrumentalists in this world class setting and every night is filled with nuance and moments of genuine beauty. I am one of the luckiest guitarists I know and that keeps me engaged in the trials and triumphs of being a singular music professional in NYC.
The Electric Company on Sesame Workshop. I was hired to play guitar in the house band for the television show a few years into my run at Wicked. In a very short while I advanced to the position of underscore composer and I wrote the incidental music for 52 episodes of the show. It was the most demanding, grueling enterprise I ever encountered. The schedule of writing, revising, writing and re-writing three episodes per week was made more demanding because I was also playing 8 shows a week at Wicked. This work load lasted three years. It is one of the most rewarding chapters in my life where I learned how to write music with a deadline and to keep an eye on many attributes and considerations while allowing my creativity to be free and open. I learned how to delete quickly and not look back. I learned to take direction and to surpass my own and my director’s expectations while keeping a cool head and making sure the business was being attended to. Working for television is much more than making pretty sounds.
Speilberg’s West Side Story. In June of 2019 I received an email saying I was being considered to play the part of the guitarist in “The San Juan Hill Serenaders” for the remake of West Side Story by Stephen Spielberg. Aside form my disbelief I was thrilled and my iPhone video audition was so simple and common I was convinced I’d never get it. Being on set for a week with those fabulous dancers and actors as well as the close interaction and proximity to Mr. Spielberg was a bucket list number one. I have been in many high caliber operations but I can say that this enterprise was a singular peak in all aspects of professionalism, efficiency, art, and class. I’ll never forget the many moments of awe I experienced in the presence of those artists. I am truly grateful for that one.
In closing… I’m living a charmed life but I’ve managed to stay out of the way of the hype. It is always the same from my view. I’m only interested in excellence. Once I sign up, I’m in it to win it.
“There’s no traffic on the extra mile.”
- Off Broadway
- NYC/Tri-State Area
- Upstate NY
Interested in touring?
- Music Director/Conductor (Not Pianist)
- Incidental Music Composer/Arranger
- Pit Musician (Other)
- Music Producer/Record Producer
- Home Studio Whiz
- Classroom music teacher at an educational institution
- Guitar - acoustic
- Guitar - electric
- THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF MUSICIANS (AFM)