We got a fairly good idea of the audience for classical music in Calbayog City in Western Samar with the opening of the First Samar International Music Festival on Oct. 29 with violinist Gina Medina and pianist Mary Anne Espina.
A movement from a Mozart sonata set the tone for the evening, and here you saw the best of Espina and Medina as chamber musicians. With the excellent acoustics of Café Elsa of Ciriaco Hotel, the performance was one of the finest of Medina and Espina and the audience absorbed the intensity of the moment with relish.
From the romantic pieces of Dvorak to the Kreisler selections, notably the Praeludium and Allegro (in the style of Pugnani), the audience roared with approval.
You could hear a pin drop in the rendition of Constancio de Guzman’s “Bayan Ko” and its patriotic impact was not lost on the audience, some of whom were in tears.
But they quickly recovered in the first encore, “Sa Kabukiran,” and gave the artists a resounding standing ovation led by Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento and Mr. and Ms Nicanor Chan, parents of musician Violeta Chan, who used to work with “Tita King” Kasilang at the CCP in the late ’70s.
Also in the audience was Raymund Ronald Ricafort from the Calbayog Mayor’s Office; friends and relatives of filmmaker Chito Roño, who is from Calbayog City; the city’s cultural officer, Jonas Lim.
Another encore followed—Antonio Molina’s “Hatinggabi”—and you could see that the audience’s thirst for music was generously addressed.
In the audience were the 70 members of Christ the King Youth Symphony Orchestra, led by Fr. Marlowe Rosales, OFM.
I encouraged an open forum after the concert. Gina Medina—who is the concertmaster of the Manila Symphony Orchestra—said she could do a workshop for violinists of the orchestra. Rep. Sarmiento, bought tickets for young rondalla players, said there was an urgent need to expose the city’s young musicians to good music performances.
I fully agree with Rep. Sarmiento that factionalism has no place in the realm of music when the future of young musicians is at stake. He said Calbayog—where he was former city executive—was graced with the visits of ensembles such as the Madrigal Singers in the past.
Sarmiento’s love for music is understandable. His mother studied at the UP Conservatory of Music and he grew up with the sound of music in the Sarmiento household.
A day before the concert, we were not sure if it would push through. The only piano we could think of was the upright from the office of Fr. Marlowe of Christ the King College and the good father said its staccato was not working.
The only piano-tuner around, Vic Pantua, lives 63 km away, in Catarman town. We found him through the help of Carl Bordeos from the office of CKC president, Fr. Mar Tubac, OFM, who was one of the patrons of the festival.
Some five piano-movers supervised by Hazel Hugo moved the upright from the school to Ciriaco Hotel, and they were rewarded with a command performance of “Bayan Ko” from Medina.
As it turned out, we rediscovered there was an audience for classical music but concerts had to be subsidized because ticket sales couldn’t cover expenses. Ciriaco Hotel helped in the accommodation of the artists and staff and Sarmiento took care of the air tickets.
The next Samar festival concert in the same venue is on Dec. 5, featuring baritone Andrew Fernando, flutist Christopher Oracion, and pianist Mary Anne Espina.. The festival will move to Catarman, Catbalogan and Borongan, Samar. Call 09065104270 for tickets.
Balay Kalinaw recital
Balay Kalinaw in UP Diliman will be the venue of the recital of 11-year-old pianist Mishael Romano. His program include Haydn’s Sonata in C Major, Hob. 3; Chopin’s Waltz in B Flat Minor; Debussyâ’s Golliwog’s Cake Walk; Beethoven’s Sonatina in F Major; Clementi’s Sonatina in C Major, Op. 36, No. 3; and Haydn’s Concerto in D Major, with Miracle Roman on the second piano. Call 7484152 or 0906-5104270.