Cristobal Martinez

Earning your right to the floor.

By Dhruvi Joshi

Despite getting accepted into a masters program for Music Composition at NYU New York, Cristobal decided to go home after being away for six years to start his career as a freelance composer. His professional journey began with accepting projects that required a lot of commitment, yet barely paid the bills. He persisted and continued to expand his skills and build his portfolio, until one day, the undersecretary for North America in the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs commissioned him to write the symphony orchestra piece for the 75th anniversary of the Mexican and Canadian Affairs. In addition to his concert music, Martinez has scored commercials for Huawei, Samsung, National Geographic, Fox Sports, Bundesliga, NFL, Chevrolet, Nissan, and HP.

Cristobal Martinez, Class of 2015, graduated with a degree in music. He is currently a freelance composer in Mexico.

When he moved back, he was lucky to have met a film director who asked for his help on a piece being presented at a festival in two weeks. Martinez agreed to be involved with the project.

“I didn’t see anybody for those two weeks, I lived out of the producers house and remember intensely composing music.” As one of his first engagements as a graduate he points out that it was terribly paid. “I guess it's part of the process, in Mexico we say ‘Ganarte tu derecho de piso’ which means earning your right to the floor.”

Although what he enjoys most is writing contemporary classical music for concerts, Martinez needed to involve himself with other projects. He realized that as someone who is trying to enter the market, he would benefit from gaining experience and building a reputation for his work before he can only write contemporary classical music. Martinez admits that some of the projects he worked on were less than inspiring, but it was important to take these opportunities and involve himself with projects that built his client base when the stakes weren’t so high.

In this process, clients began calling him to work a second time and then a third time. “And now, they don’t pay me what they paid me last time, they pay me a little bit more. I am now earning the fair amount for my work.”

Last year, Martinez started learning the violin to play Mexican folk music as a hobby and mentioned this to someone he had met while studying away in Hong Kong. For nine years they had been in touch and it so happened that this person had become the Undersecretary for North America in the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He asked Martinez if he would be willing to write a symphonic orchestra piece for the 75th anniversary of the Mexican and Canadian Affairs. Martinez jumped at the opportunity and collaborated with a leading Mexican conductor — Carlos Miguel Prieto and The Orchestra of The Americas — to perform the piece he composed at the Mexican Fine Arts Palace. “I saw this as an opportunity to make my debut in the most important place in Mexico with a top tier orchestra,” he said. “After that, the Orchestra liked the work and invited me to become part of their residency for the year, which is exactly what I wanted”.

After five years, Martinez is more at peace. “I am living the dream, and maintaining it.”

Video: Watch the performance of Christobal Martinez's composition, performed by The Orchestra of The Americas and conducted by Carlos Miguel Prieto, at the Mexican Fine Arts Palace.