Hidden from small

Ernesto Tovar Torres - Behind the Scenes

April 03, 2018

Each month in the Orchestra’s Playbill, we feature one musician in a question-and-answer segment. Below is that feature in its entirety.

Where were you born? I was born in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico. It’s a small town near the border with McAllen, TX. I grew up in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, until my early teens.

What piece of music could you play over and over again? This is a hard question. If I had to pick, my favorite piece would have to be Sibelius’s Symphony No. 5. I could play the Swan Theme from the finale forever!

What is your most treasured possession? My three adorable dogs: Cleo the Husky, Sammy the German Shepherd mix, and Francis the Border Collie mix. They shed so much but we still love them. Wanna see pictures?

What’s your favorite Philadelphia restaurant? My wife and I haven’t been here long, but out of the ones we’ve tried Bing Bing Dim Sum on Passyunk Square has been the best! We live in the area and are excited to keep exploring different cuisines. 

Tell us about your instrument. I play a Daniel Rauch double horn. He recently retired and is no longer making horns. I was very lucky to get his second to last horn ever made. It is number 431 out of 432 horns made in his lifetime.

What’s in your instrument case? I actually just got a new case. It’s lighter and better for travel. But it means that I’ve had to cut down on what I carry. Now it’s just my music and scores for the week, a couple of mouthpieces, a tuner/metronome, breath mints, and five pencils. (You always need to have a pencil).

What piece of music never fails to move you? The opening of the third movement of Mahler's Symphony No. 4. I’m a romantic. For me, that’s as good as it gets.

When did you join the Orchestra? I joined the Orchestra in the middle of this season. My first official concert as a full-time member was on January 5, 2018.

Do you play any other instruments? I can whistle and get into a little trouble on the guitar, but I’m not very good. 

What’s your favorite type of food? I love food, but I must admit Mexican is my favorite. My wife and I love cooking tacos, salsas, brisket, mole, tamales, tortas (Mexican hoagies) … you name it, we make it. Recently, we have been having a great time altering all of our recipes to be lactose free. It’s rather difficult being a recently diagnosed lactose-Intolerant Mexican; cheese and butter run thick in our culture. 

What books are on your nightstand? Hard copy or e-reader? Right now I go to bed every night reading and studying musical scores of the pieces we’re playing. Definitely hardcopy!

Do you speak any other languages? Spanish was my first language, so technically, English is my “other” language. I started learning English when I was seven in Monterrey. My private teacher was from New York, so I don’t have very much of an accent. I’m very grateful my parents had the opportunity to teach me another language from such an early age. I also grew up learning French in private school. But, as they say, if you don’t use it, you lose it. When we moved to the U.S., I had no one to practice my French with, so I lost it fairly quickly. I can still understand a little, but I am by no means fluent.

Do you follow any blogs? I follow my sister-in-law, Katie's, blog, Post Modern Missionary. She is a missionary in Sierra Leone and she shares her experiences and daily life. It is so interesting to get to know new cultures.

Do you have any hobbies? I like to play disc golf whenever I get the chance and attempt to solve Rubik’s cubes … very slowly.

Do you have a favorite movie? I really love the Back to the Future trilogy. The third one is my favorite.

What’s the last recording you purchased? CD or download? One of my best friends from university gave me a mixed CD for the drive from Houston to Philadelphia. It is KILLER!

When was the first time you heard The Philadelphia Orchestra? The first time I heard The Philadelphia Orchestra live was this season, in October, when I was auditioning for the fourth horn position. Little did I know, the next day I would have to perform the opening of the Symphony in the section round (when I got to meet Maestro Yannick and play with the entire horn section for the first time) in my audition. 

Photo by Jason Bartlett