José Antonio Escobar was born in Santiago de Chile, and studied from an early age under the renowned Ernesto Quezada at the University of Chile, graduating summa cum laude. He obtained his Master’s Degree after winning a Chilean Government scholarship to study under Franz Halász at the Hochschule für Musik Nürnberg-Augsburg, where he also became a teaching assistant. To complement these studies he has also attended master-classes with such teachers as Eliot Fisk, Hopkinson Smith, Eduardo Egüez and Juan Carlos Rivera.
His ability has been recognised with more than sixteen awards obtained at major international guitar competitions, most notably First Prizes at the 1997 Rio de Janeiro Heitor Villa-Lobos International Guitar Competition, the 1998 Caracas Alirio Díaz International Guitar Competition, the First Prize and Audience Prize at the 2000 Benicássim International Francisco Tárrega Competition in Spain, First Prize at the 2001 Stotsenberg International Guitar Competition in Malibu, First Prize (with the Second not assigned) at the 2003 Almería International Guitar Competition Julian Arcas, and First Prize at the 2005 Cáceres International Guitar Competition in Spain.
He has toured numerous cities throughout Europe, North, Central and South America, as well as the Asia/Pacific region, Middle East and North Africa, and has given concerts at the Purcell Room at the Southbank Centre in London, the Musikverein in Vienna, the Teatro Monumental in Madrid, the Sala Teresa Carreño in Caracas, the Sala Cecilia Meireles in Rio de Janeiro, and the Cairo Opera House.
José Antonio Escobar has played as a soloist with various orchestras, most notably the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI, Mediterranean Symphony Orchestra, Spain’s Extremadura Orchestra, the Symphony Orchestra of Chile, and Germany’s Hofer Symphoniker. In 2001 he recorded his first recital CD with Naxos, and this was particularly well received by critics. He recorded live, the Concierto de Aranjuez by Rodrigo for Channel 2, Spanish TV, which was broadcast worldwide. His second CD, in 2004, included Guitar Sonatas for Spanish RTVE and his last CD, in 2008, Guitar Music of Chile for Naxos was his last release. He has taught at various universities in Chile and Germany. He is also frequently invited to teach master-classes at prestigious festivals and universities in several countries, including Trinity College of Music, London, the Bremen Musikhochschule, Darmstadt and Augsburg, Helsinki Polytechnic Stadia, and the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO). Since 2004 he has served as Professor at the Universidad Mayor in Santiago, Chile.