The fiery 22-year-old Juan Chavez will grace Boston stages twice today with Díle, his own eight-piece Afro Cuban orchestra. (Photo courtesy of Berklee College of Music)
Berklee College of Music student and bandleader Juan Chavez brings Díle, his eight-piece Afro Cuban orchestra, to the fourth annual Kendall Square Concert Series and the second annual Harbor Sounds: Berklee at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) for a pair of shows today.
The 22-year-old Chavez says he has always known he wanted to be a musician, and has put more work into his craft than some performers twice his age.
A lifelong violinist, Chavez got his first taste of the instrument when he was four years old at a rodeo in his hometown of Dallas, Texas.
“We went to a Dwight Yoakam concert at a rodeo, and his fiddle player was just ripping it,” said Chavez. “I pointed at him and said, ‘That’s what I want to do.’”
Chavez’s first stop was his fifth-grade orchestra. Here, the young musician began a trend that has followed him all the way to Berklee — the serial dismissal from each and every ensemble of which he has ever been a part.
“I’ve been kicked out, thrown out, of every orchestra I’ve ever played in — and I think that’s due to my love of improvisation,” he said. “My teacher referred to that as jazz musician ADD.”
Luckily, his talent has allowed him to turn rejection into opportunity.
“Every time I’d get kicked out of an orchestra, I’d go and find a bigger, better orchestra,” he said.
The upward mobility started after his dismissal from the fifth-grade orchestra, when Chavez, with the help of his mother, found a spot in the advanced junior high orchestra. Chavez found himself playing his violin from the first chair, a leadership role second only to the conductor, surrounded by students years older than him.
Old habits die hard, however, and by the time Chavez was actually in junior high school, he was asked to leave the orchestra.
“I always started out as first chair violinist, I’ve always been the lead guy,” he said. “And I’d think to myself, ‘This is boring, I want to play my own music.’
“By the time I was 12 or 13,” he added, “I decided I wanted to make up the music that I played — and orchestra directors just don’t want to hear that.”(p2)