Diego plays his way to the top

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Diego Corrales (12) holds his cello.

Diego Corrales (12) brushed his bow swiftly along his cello as he led the orchestra through the concert with ease. His eyes never left his director’s, Mr. Green, as the music notes of the songs they played were etched in his soul.

The audience’s eyes were fixed onto the first chair cellist, Diego. His precision and passion put into every note he played at the Spring Concert last year were evident. 

Diego has been leading the school’s several orchestras since freshman year when he was chosen as the first chair. He navigates his peers through the songs they play, helps out certain sections, and knows how to control different parts of the music. 

Mr. Green says, “He’s been sitting the first stand for two years now. He’s the actual principal cellist of symphony orchestra in the highschool that we have.” 

The symphony orchestra is the most elite orchestra that our school offers. It is quite rare for a sophomore to be accepted, yet Diego defied those odds. 

It was tough at first to assure his stance within the orchestra, as being a sophomore first chair above upperclassmen was difficult. “He had to be telling sophomores, juniors, and seniors, how to play when to play, and what style to play in. It’s a difficult thing to do with your peers, particularly when they’re older than you,” explains Mr. Green. 

He eventually found his own effective leadership style and created supportive friendships with all of the orchestras. “He won over the section by being patient, humble, generous, and with a mind toward the process.”

Diego has future plans to try and teach an orchestra class of his own, putting his musical spin onto his lesson plans and instilling his passion onto his students. 

He initially got into music at a very young age. “I started playing the piano when I was 3 or 4, and I played that for 5 years or so. Then I started playing the cello, and in between that, I took lessons on violin, drumming, and guitar. But then I just ended up picking the cello,” Diego explains. 

From there, his music career took off in middle school. He was a prominent player in the music program there and was recognized immediately as so by his peers, teachers, and even high school orchestra director Mr. Green. 

Encouraged by several teachers, Diego went out and auditioned for a music conservatory called Midwest Young Artists Conservatory. Diego got in with ease and has been playing them since 8th grade. He travels with them, performs concerts, and leads their orchestra, as well. 

In addition to traveling with his conservatory to places such as Texas and Tennessee, he has also gone on many trips through the school for music. He has visited Prague, Vienna, and Budapest to play his music. He has also gone out for pre-screenings at colleges such as USC and in Rochester.

Diego has been focused on reaching for orchestra scholarships and getting into a prestigious musical program in college for a while now. At first, he agrees, his focus for music was not quite there. Diego was initially involved in football and his social life, yet when he cut out football and the constant hangouts, music became his priority. 

To make up for the physical activity he was now lacking after dropping football, he found a new hobby: weight training. Diego travels around the Chicagoland area and throughout Wisconsin trying to scope out new gyms. He also loves meeting famous athletes that he can gain inspiration from for his meal plans and workouts. 

During his workouts and school, music is still a big part of his life. He jams out to his all-time favorite artist John Mayer and also listens to a variety of styles: old school blues, heavy metal rock, and thought-provoking rap. “If I’m not talking to someone, I have headphones on. It can be any song at any time,” Corrales laughs. 

His family also loves music, going to concerts together quite often. He holds a close-knit relationship with his family, finding cultural significance with their Bolivian nationality. Posters and banners representing Bolivia are carefully strung throughout his house, proudly pronouncing his roots. 

In addition, he explains how being Bolivian has affected his music career in challenging ways: “I stand out in every ensemble I play in, and if I have a high position I have to prove myself to show I didn’t earn it because of my color.” 

Diego puts an immense amount of effort into all that he does, constantly striving to learn more and excel. 

“He is one of these people that has many layers, and he is worth taking the time to peel back and explore a little bit,” Mr. Green notes.