I haven’t seen anything like it,” raved Arsenio “Nick” Lizaso, president of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). “The audiences just wouldn’t let them go.” He was referring to the performances of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and Tanghalang Pilipino (TP), resident groups of the CCP, in Tokyo and Kuji, Japan, and Moscow, respectively.
The PPO is led by Yoshikazu Fukumura, while TP artistic director is Nanding Josef. Lizaso, a music lover and actor-director by profession, helped in making the trips possible (with a little help from his friends) and accompanied both groups in their trips abroad.
The PPO, representing the Philippines, was invited to the Asia Orchestra Week 2018, in Japan, and only three symphony orchestras were chosen. The two others were Gunma Symphony Orchestra, representing Japan, and Hangzhou Philharmonic Orchestra of China.
In Kuji, Iwate, the PPO performed Mendelssohn’s “Violin Concerto in E minor,” with soloist Ryu Goto, the handsome Japanese violinist who is treated like a rock star in Tokyo and Manila as well. He performed here last year with the PPO and again last Nov. 15 at the Manila Cathedral for the PPO’s 45th anniversary concert.
In Tokyo, the repertoire was Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez,” Rossini’s “Semiramide Overture” and De Falla’s ballet “El Sombrero de Tres Picos.”
“The audience could not contain their admiration,” said Lizaso. There were five encores and a standing ovation. One of the encores was Abelardo’s immortal “Mutya ng Pasig” rendered by soprano Nerissa de Juan of the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music.
The response was just as enthusiastic for Tanghalang Pilipino in Moscow, performing at the invitation of the International University Theater Association, presented “Nang Dalawin ng Pag-ibig si Juan Tamad,” Nick Joaquin’s story for children translated by Rody Vera, and directed by Jonathan Tadiowan. The actors left the stage and then came back seven or eight times until finally, exhausted, they went down to the audience and shook hands, kissed or embraced them. And only then did the clamor cease. —CONTRIBUTED