Ingrid Sala Santamaria and Cebu’s golden age of music | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Ingrid Sala Santamaria chose Salon de Madrid at the Casino Español de Cebu to launch the book “My Four Seasons.” It is a compendium of her life and career as a concert pianist for the past 50 years, and counting.


Special guests were Gov. Hilario Davide III and his wife Jobella Angan Davide. The brief commemorative program was expertly hosted by Rey and Mary Rose Villacastin Manghuyop.


There was a video presentation of the book, page by page.


I was asked to give the opening remarks. Discarding the prepared notes I had painstakingly written, I decided to speak about Ingrid as we have known her since childhood. Our families have been close for generations. And we’d seen Ingrid bloom from a beautiful, talented child to a young adult, a teenage bride, and consequently a committed housewife, doting mother and a prominent member of the community.


All along, her supportive husband Joe Santamaria encouraged her to grow in her career as a concert pianist. Ingrid dedicated herself to a 10-year music development program for Cebu, after Joe’s death.


The music program was the main project of the Salvador and Pilar Sala Foundation, thus named to honor her parents.


That decade constituted Cebu’s golden era of music. Beautiful sounds flowed out of the Sala Mansion on Gorordo Avenue, be it from students learning or rehearsing, or performing with national and international notables.


The Cebu Youth Symphony Orchestra metamorphosed into the Peace Philharmonic whose members now perform, teach and promote music.


Ingrid’s career as a performer was interrupted during those years. But she emerged a more passionate, more expressive artist. That is the result of her having shared so much of her time, her efforts, even her genius, one might say.


The book she has launched is a treasure trove. The pages are filled with rare photographs that make for a graphic documentation of her career. The articles about her from various writers, faithfully reproduced, constitute a valuable archive.


The book’s title, “My Four Seasons,” follows the sequence of spring, summer, autumn, and winter. “That’s where I am now, winter,” Ingrid wistfully said.


But there are many who tease her that the seasons move on, never ending; and when there is winter, as the poet says, “can spring be far behind?”


Ingrid looks young for her age.


What next? More performances, definitely. Another book? Perhaps, for aside from the collection of pictures, and heaps of press clippings, there are memories, random thoughts and reflections, countless big and small anecdotes begging to be shared.


Surrounded by kin, pals


Going back to the book launch, on this occasion Ingrid was surrounded by lots of family and friends. Daughter Crispy Santamaria Laurel came with her son Jay, who gave some interesting insights.


Sister Chona Sala Montinola came from Manila to join the Cebu-based siblings like Juanito and Josie Sala, Cheling (Sweden’s honorary consul) and Susan Sala, and sister-inlaw Gemma Sala with daughter Merielle and Celyn.


More: aunts Rosebud Sala and Nena Garcia; cousins Marguerite Lhuillier and Chona Bernad; Amparito Lhuillier; Myra Gonzalez; Kingsley Medalla who had helped with the invitations; Merlie Zamora, Eddie and Marilou Bernardo; Anita Sanchez and Mike Pugoy who had done the beautiful flower arrangements.


Governor Davide was presented with a copy of the book, as were Odetta Jereza for the University of Southern Philippines Foundation, Lilu Aliño for St. Theresa’s College Cebu, Tina Nernaez for the University of Cebu, and John Gregory Escario for the Cebu Institute of Technology University.


Highlight of the event was a performance by Ingrid who had chosen the lively third movement from Mendelssohn’s “Piano Concerto No. 1.” She was accompanied by Reynaldo Abellana and Nicole Badar (violins 1 and 2); Arthur Yap (viola); Warner Ylaya (cello); Jerome Rezaba (bass); Geraldine Abellana (flute); and Christopher Tero (bassoon).


Two weeks later Ingrid was back in Cebu, lending support to Rey Abellana’s Classic Orchestra Music Studio. He has close to a hundred students, and 40 of them have been formed into an ensemble that gave a Christmas concert at Ayala Center Cebu on Dec. 2.


Ingrid will be back in Cebu when Reynaldo Abellana launches the Visayas Symphony Orchestra, of which he is the conductor with a performance on Jan. 10 at the auditorium of the Marcelo Fernan Cebu Press Center.


Next day, Sunday Jan. 11, the VSO will perform at the East Visayas Academy.