St. Margaret’s band director Chris Carbajal recently spent a week in Istanbul, Turkey, performing in front of a sold-out crowd as part of the touring band of legendary Iranian singer Ebi.
Ebi has released more than 30 albums in a long career in music, and has played in sold-out shows around the globe. He has more than 9 million Instagram followers and continues to enjoy enduring popularity five decades after his debut.
Mr. Carbajal has performed with Ebi
for six years now, and this was his first time traveling overseas on tour. He was in Turkey for seven days, taking part in two rehearsals and one sold-out show at the Ora Arena in front of 6,300 fans.
Mr. Carbajal plays tenor saxophone with Ebi, and he is the only band member who is also a full-time educator. The rest of his bandmates are full-time performers who tour with other chart-toppers, including Jason Mraz, Sara Bareilles and Kanye West.
During his time on the road, Mr. Carbajal picked up insights about life as a professional musician that he has shared with his students at St. Margaret’s—one reason he feels his professional work with Ebi enhances his teaching.
“Ebi is very selective in who he wants to perform with him,” Mr. Carbajal said. “That makes me feel valued by him, and I feel valued by St. Margaret’s as well for its support as I aim to ‘practice what I preach’ in the music industry.”
Because Mr. Carbajal’s top priority is teaching band students across three divisions at St. Margaret’s, he typically does not travel far to play with Ebi. He is a regular in shows closer to St. Margaret’s, though, in places like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Vancouver and even New York. Throughout his 19-year career as a Tartan, Mr. Carbajal has continually performed as a professional locally and with other well-known talent, such as Barry Manilow.
“St. Margaret’s has long embraced a ‘teaching artist’ model for visual and performing arts faculty. The school supports teachers who maintain an active professional practice in their disciplines,” said Darcy Rice, St. Margaret’s director of the arts. “Performing arts faculty, like Chris Carbajal, will perform in professional concerts and recording sessions, and we believe these professional activities support and expand their teaching practice by giving students a window into the professional arts world. The faculty’s real-world experiences inspire students in their work at St. Margaret’s.”
After this recent experience, Mr. Carbajal had a lot of exciting insight to share with the St. Margaret’s community. With Istanbul straddling two continents, Mr. Carbajal showed Tartans how he began his day in Europe before traveling to rehearsals in Asia, thus being on both continents each day. His students learned how the event was carried out in a foreign country. The set in Istanbul was three hours long, and the show had strict COVID risk-mitigation efforts in place, requiring both proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test.
“Musicians that get to the top are not complacent,” Mr. Carbajal said. “What you see on the stage is the tip of the iceberg. They are turning down things like sightseeing so they can instead do intense practice sessions by themselves in their hotel rooms. They are very focused on their work.
“It’s also striking to me how much musicians value fellow band members who are kind and friendly and someone you want to play alongside. There’s so much more to being successful than just talent. I see examples of that when I’m performing with these world-class musicians and I make sure to pass that along to my students.”
Mr. Carbajal will continue performing professionally this year, including a show with another Iranian pop star, Sasy, later this month.