The Salvador and Pilar Sala Foundation and the Cebu Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO), in cooperation with the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel, presented “An Evening of Magical Music” last Dec. 27. Venue was the hotel’s ballroom.
The concert was for the benefit of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” victims in northern Cebu. Donations were accepted at a desk near the entrance to the hall.
It was also the closing tribute to the golden anniversary of Ingrid Sala Santamaria as a concert pianist. She is the main inspiration of and the driving force to the CPO.
Admission to the concert was free, and so was the seating which made most of everyone come well ahead of the hour, 8 p.m. Susan Montenegro Sala of the Sala Foundation was welcoming all and indicating where best to seat. Hazel Stuart, British lady based in Bacolod, was filming every detail for a possible documentary for the BBC. She has done quite a number on the Philippines.
The hotel’s general manager Hans Hauri with his wife Bo and their twin sons Morgan and Austin took their seats on front row. So did Rosebud Sala, Teresin Mendezona with Irma Atillo, Glenn and Honey Loop, Fe Sala Villarica and Vivina Yrastorza with Rev. Fr. Ernesto Javier.
Also glimpsed were Alice Plaza with Ralph Kaufman from Miami (Florida), Honorary consul of Sweden Jose Sala, Antonio and Chona (née Sala) Montinola, Nyto Sala with son Ivan and daughter Lianne, Benny and Gemma Sala.
More: Delia Aliño Villacastin with Cookie Newman, Julie Ko with son Kelly, Vic and Toots Torres, Omar Maxwell Espina, Yolanda Alcordo, Elvira Luym, Marissa Fernan who the next day would host the CPO at the Northing Atrium of SM City Cebu with the same program.
Right on time, program host Mary Rose Villacastin Manghuyop took her post on stage at a lectern to announce the start of the event. By then, the 72-member orchestra was in place with its regular conductor Reynaldo Abellana to accompany Maria Kim Martinez as she sang the invocation, “Nearer My God the Thee.”
The national anthem followed, so superbly rendered that some said Rey Abellana deserved a round of applause.
Music development program
Jess Alcordo, a staunch supporter of the CPO, gave the welcome address and rationale. It all goes back to the early 1990s when Ingrid and the Sala Foundation set up a music development program that resulted in the Cebu Youth Symphony and eventually the Peace Philharmonic.
This intense musical activity chiefly relied—and continues to do so—on the Sala family’s foundation. Mr. Alcordo said it is high time the community rallies to the challenge of supporting the CPO “to give Cebu its soul.”
That said, the audience welcomed guest conductor maestro Alfredo Villanueva. For the past year, he has been the assistant conductor of the Concordia Symphony Orchestra based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
First on the program was “Lahing Kayumanggi,” a symphonic Poem by national artist Lucio San Pedro. This was followed by Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. one of the composer’s most important works, and considered his most famous and certainly the most played.
An intermission of ten minutes allowed for the Arts Council’s Yamaha grand piano to be wheeled in place for the next number, which was the highlight of the “magical” evening. This was Tschaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, regarded as the composer’s signature masterpiece. It even became more famous when played by Van Cliburn.
Waiting in the wings to be announced was Cebu’s pride, Ingrid, in a shimmering silvery gown and sparkling with jewels. The audience gave her warm applause as she stepped onstage, made a graceful bow and took her seat.
It was a brilliant, emotional rendition that rated a standing ovation for Ingrid and the orchestra, which took the cue more from her more than the conductor. When the applause stopped, Ingrid claimed her privilege of addressing the audience.
She thanked everyone for their presence and generosity, stressing that “Music is very important in our lives.” She echoed Jess’s appeal to support the CPO and thereby encourage homegrown artists.
“Two generations ago we did not have an orchestra in Cebu,” she said. “Now we have one which with your help may be our legacy for future generations.”
The evening concluded with Reynaldo Abellana once more conducting the CPO as it played “Kasadya N’ing Takna-a,” the most Cebuano of all Cebuano Christmas carols. As he requested, many of those present sang along the emotive lyrics.
Kudos to the CPO for a magnificent and memorable two-day performance. Special mention to the musicians:
Violins 1: March Hamlet Mercado (concert master), Rodelio Glodove, Brian Joseph Cimafranca, Amira Miel, Melissa Cipres, Ace Toring, Nicole Badar, Paul Ramos, Franz Joseph Lanzaderas, Angeli Si, Leigh Cellano, Jessica Borres, Jaeya Algarme and Wayneth Abaiz.
Violins 2: Francis Roleth Balo, Norwena Belocura, Maricel Manus, Jerome Nakila, Monica Bacus, Angela Chua, Marie Antoinette Gorgonio, Yun Jin Park, Francino Delima, Bambi Chua, Gerald Wegner, Jason Beltran, Adrian Niño Beltran, Cesar Cabahug and Alfonso Encina Jr.
Viola: Raymund Nigell Abarquez, Ervin Osmeña. Juliet Jung, June Roa, Sophia Chua, Arthur Yap, Rey Abellana and Kazuko Uehara.
Cello: Gerry Gonzalez, Roger Ylaya, Irene Cruz. Dennis Namocatcat, Jessica Abella and Ria Pizarro.
Double bass: Jiovanni Tabada, Virgilio Ylaya and Jerome Rezaba.
Flute/piccolo: Geraldine Abellana and Christopher Oracion.
Oboe: Leosa Signe.
Clarinet: Akane Katsuka and Christina Roy Abaiz.
Bassoon: Masashi Inoue, Magno Aquino and Christopher Tero.
French horn: Mahler Villanueva, Basilio Sable, Hitomi Sado and Mark Melecio.
Trumpet: Reydon Encinares and Warren Perez.
Trombone: Massaki Nagata, Bjorn Gaviola and Keith Jerald Inso.
Percussion: Joel Cruz, Omar Mataganas and Yuko Emura.
For this concert, the CPO was beefed up by excellent musicians from the Orchestra of the Filipino Youth, the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra, the Manila Symphony Orchestra, the University of the Philippines Chamber Orchestra and the Unites the World Orchestra of Japan.