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Namcya turns 40, with growing number of contestants


CCP president Raul Sunico

Because of the horrific monsoon rains and floods, the concert of the Manila Symphony Orchestra (MSO) has been moved to Aug. 31, 7 p.m., at the Abelardo Hall, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.

Coincidentally, the two featured soloists—pianist Oliver Salonga and violinist Diomedes Saraza Jr., and MSO conductor Arturo Molina—are all top prizewinners of the National Music Competition for Young Artists (Namcya), which  just celebrated its 40th anniversary with a concert at the Cultural Center of the Philippines last Aug. 25.

CCP president Raul Sunico, himself a prizewinner in local and foreign music competitions, notes the increasing number of contestants in the Namcya. But he offers a caveat: Competition is not a sure passport to greater recognition.

“Managers, critics and influential musicians and artists are always on the lookout for fresh talents, and competitions are an ideal venue to discover such,” he says. “They also bring out the best in the competitor by way of upgrading one’s standards of excellence.

“At the same time, competitions also create intrigues, frustrations that may be detrimental to the weak of spirit, and might end up producing technicians instead of artists.”

Former Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra principal cellist Renato Lucas—also a former prize-winner and now one of the overseers of Namcya—says winning a competition is rewarding. He adds that winning is not the end, but just the beginning of a long journey to improving one’s craft.

NAMCYA winner Oliver Salonga, Cecile Licad

He points out that musicians must have tenacity of spirit and the patience to endure the long, lonely hours in the practice room. He adds that one’s idealism must be sustained.

“One thing’s for sure, the vision and dreams of Namcya have supplemented mine,” he says.

Molina says: “Competitions prod you to be better than the rest by constant practice. But losing doesn’t mean they are not good enough. It could also mean that judges have different taste and criteria.”

Molina, a grandnephew of National Artist for Music Antonio Molina, is proud that many MSO members are former Namcya prizewinners.


Meanwhile, another former prizewinner of the MSO Young Artists Competition, Cecile Licad, received a rousing standing ovation after her recital at the “Rarities of Piano Music” at Schloss vor Husum Festival in Germany Wednesday last week.

MANILA Symphony Orchestra, many of itsmembers are Namcya prizewinners

Described by some German music concert-goers as the “volcano from the Philippines,” Licad received a prolonged standing ovation after playing a rarely heard program of MacDowell, Busoni, Chaminade and Gottschalk.

“The Husum Castle where the recital took place is fascinating!” Licad said. “I must say that learning all this new stuff in my program was worth it.”

Licad also had an impromptu performance with Saraza two movements from a Cesar Franck sonata.

“What can I say? He is good and very musical,” said Licad of Saraza.

A few years back, Licad also had the chance to coach another MSO soloist, Oliver Salonga, who will play Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 on Aug. 31 at the UP Abelardo Hall.

For tickets to the Aug. 31 MSO concert, call 5763132 or 0906-5104270. Licad will perform at the CCP Oct. 12-13 with Lea Salonga, Lisa Macuja Elizalde and Gerard Salonga of the ABS-CBN Philharmonic in a repeat of “Classics and Legends.”

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Tags: Manila Symphony Orchestra (MSO) , Music , National Music Competition for Young Artists (Namcya) , Philippines

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