17 November 2023

“I’m proud of myself for never giving up” – The Mallorcan trumpeter Bernat Xamena fought his way back to life

With a series of video portraits, TV journalist Sibylle Tiessen takes us on a captivating journey into a world full of exciting projects, cultural diversity and authentic stories on Mallorca. Supported by TUI, the TUI Care Foundation and Majorca Daily Bulletin, viewers learn more about the island from a whole new perspective, from inspiring stories of locals to social, artistic, ecological, scientific and political aspects.  

Episode 8: “I’m proud of myself for never giving up”

“Music has always been my great passion. Nobody in our family was a musician. But I said to my mum at the age of six: ‘Mum, I want to study music.’” Now 47, Bernat Xamena did everything he could to become a professional musician. And he did so successfully. At the age of eight, he began studying piano as well as trumpet and eventually graduated with top marks in trumpet from the Conservatory of Music in Valencia. 

He was accepted into the Palma Symphony Orchestra, auditioned for the Ibero-American Youth Orchestra and was selected as a special student at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. But when he was at the peak of his career, the tide turned for the young professional musician. 

“I still remember suddenly making uncontrolled movements with my head and simply not being able to bring the trumpet to my mouth.” These were the beginnings of a disorder also known as focal embouchure dystonia. “The fine motor skills no longer play along, movements that have been practised for a long time suddenly become uncontrolled,” says Bernat. 

At the time, the causes of this disorder were still virtually unexplored. It took a total of seven years before he was able to play properly again. “Seven years of hard work and daily training,” he recalls, but then after ten years the symptoms returned. “And nothing that had helped me before had any effect. I really thought I was going crazy.”

But he didn’t give up and fought his way back. “Sport saved me.” Bernat Xamena began to take part in triathlons. With a lot of perseverance and discipline, he qualified for the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii in 2018 and supported aid organisations on the island, such as Mallorca Sense Fam (Mallorca without Hunger) and ELA Balears, which supports people with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a fatal motor neuron disease). In recent years, he has also been able to encourage many professional musicians who are also affected by focal attachment dystonia. 

He is now fully active as a musician again as the trumpeter of the Banda Municipal de Música de Palma. He has also completed the album “Somni d’una trompeta” in collaboration with other Spanish composers. “I know that the attacks can always come back. But until then, I’m enjoying what I’m doing and I’m just proud that I’ve never given up.”

Find out more in the video: