Down in El Paso He Fell in Love…
with the Piano
“There are many pianists out there who have razzle-dazzle styles, but that’s not where my heart is,” explains musician and poet Esteban Ramirez. “My spirit leads me to instrumental piano music that is romantic, lyrical, and passionate, and my poetry is an extension of that.”
Born and raised in the border town of El Paso, he is the youngest of nine children from immigrant parents. “El Paso is either a small city or a big town depending on how you experience it. We lived right next to a big mountain with lots of cacti and tumbleweeds. It was a really fun place to explore when I was growing up.”
A hyperactive child, his mother started him on piano lessons at age ten to keep his energetic explorations focused on something that allowed her to keep a watchful eye on him. A year later he began composing.
“I was hooked. A year into my lessons I wrote a little ditty. I remember saying, ‘Oh, that’s where the radio gets its music: from people like me!’”
No sooner did his mom notice his talent when she directed his creative energy to becoming the church pianist at the age of 11. Here he honed his style that characterizes his neoclassical compositions to this day.
“During my teens, I started composing instrumental piano pieces, which I found much more liberating than writing songs with lyrics,” Esteban recounts. “Being the church pianist, I had some great improvisations for meditations and recessionals. The members loved them.”
Esteban's style is best described as neo-classical piano-based music with an ensemble accompaniment of cello, flute, violin, and clarinet. He cites composers Chopin, Mozart, and Barry Manilow as having strongly influenced his music. "Yes, I'm a Fanilow! I love his syrupy, lovelorn, romantic lyrics and over-done orchestrations. Barry is not afraid of ‘syrup.’"
Esteban delved into poetry after his first album, Serenade to the Moon, was released.
“I’m not sure why I love writing poetry, but as with different notes on the piano, where my heart wants to tell a story with a melody, my heart also wants to tell a story with words that allow you to look at life in a way you’ve never seen before.”
Esteban’s poetry covers a range of human emotions as it is direct extension of his music. At his live performances, he includes select readings from his poetry, with each poem reflecting the inspiration behind the piece of the same name.
“Music has an amazing way to stir your heart and soul. Poetry has an amazing way to stir your imagination,” adds Esteban. “Together, they make for a pretty amazing creative experience.”
Esteban has released three albums under his own label called Descanso Music, the Spanish word for restful. Esteban has toured the country coast to coast, from Los Angeles to Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in New York City and many places in between. He is currently working on his first book of original poetry, which will be a companion piece to his Serenade to the Moon album. Esteban resides in Santa Barbara, California.