Filipino classical performing artists remained triumphant at home and abroad in 2018.
After placing second in 2017, Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra (MSJO) under Jeffrey Solares returned to the Summa Cum Laude festival in Vienna in 2018 and emerged first prize winner.
In Hong Kong, soprano Stefanie Quintin welcomed 2018 with a role in a contemporary opera (“Mila” with libretto by Candace Chong and music by American composer Eli Marshal). She got positive reviews from Hong Kong critics. Later during the year, she placed second in the professional category of the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) International Voice Competition in Singapore.
Tenor Arthur Espiritu remained the top Philippine classical newsmaker in local and international opera. He played the role of Gualtiero (Il Pirata by Bellini) at Theater St. Gallen in Switzerland. He was also the year’s most-sought after Alfredo (La Traviata), playing the famous role in productions at Operclosterneuburg in Vienna opposite a prize-winning Russian soprano, and at Opernhaus Hannover middle of December to January this year. A visa problem cut short his Bolshoi Theater debut in the same role.
On Sept. 26 at Cultural Center of the Philippines, Espiritu got triple standing ovations with pianist Mariel Ilusorio. It was his first recital at the CCP.
Meanwhile Cecile Licad opened the year with a recital at the Carnegie Hall (Weill Hall) where she got a standing ovation. She was thrice soloist of the Vallejo Symphony in its Shostakovich, Saint-Saens and Chopin concertos. She also got a standing ovation when she performed with the Mississippi Symphony, the only orchestra in Elvis Presley’s hometown.
Licad’s all-Chopin program got unanimous acclaim in California.
Toward the end of 2018, Licad held a series of homecoming concerts with an all-Chopin program in Iloilo City’s Nelly Garden, Molo Church and SM Iloilo; and in the Science City of Munoz in Nueva Ecija, Baguio City and Roxas City. In the last stop, she performed in tribute to her first piano teacher, Rosario Picazo.
Meanwhile after his stint as assistant conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Gerard Salonga has been named music director of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra.
The concert to look forward to this month is the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of maestro Yoshikazu Fukumura with pianist Hiyas A. Hila as featured soloist on Jan, 18, 8 p.m., at CCP Main Theater.
Program consists of Wagner’s Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op.92. –CONTRIBUTED
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