Most people know Raul M. Sunico primarily as former president of Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), as former dean of the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music and, of course, as a renowned concert pianist. A glance at his curriculum vitae leaves you breathless.
Sunico has a Bachelor of Music degree (cum laude), BS in Mathematics and Master of Statistics from the University of the Philippines; a Master of Music degree from Juilliard School, New York, and a PhD (piano performance) from New York University.
He has received a slew of awards and honors, including the Order of the Star of Italy, and has performed as solo recitalist or as soloist of a symphony orchestra in 28 countries.
He has been described as the only pianist in the world to have performed the four piano concertos of Sergei Rachmaninoff in a single evening. And he’ll do it again.
But first things first.
Sunico is a trustee of the Sunico Foundation for Arts and Technology, whose members are descendants of Changhuangco, an immigrant from Amoy, China, who brought to the country his skills in metalworking, and with eldest son, Hilario, cast many bells in his Binondo, Manila, foundry; some of these bells are still in use.
Concert with PPO
From the late 19th century to the present, the descendants of Changhuangco have become known in art and technology, and in other professions. The three family branches have established the Sunico Foundation, which helps young Filipinos through scholarships.
It will sponsor Sunico’s concert on Jan. 26 at CCP with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO), to be conducted by Yoshikazu Fukumura and Hermenigildo Ranera. (For details, tel. 09209204264).
“The first time I did this in 2003, some people were saying, ‘Why don’t you do over two nights so that you don’t get tired?” Sunico recalled in an interview at the CCP Library.
“I said it’s my mission to do all four, especially for the first and fourth ones; I wanted people also to be familiar with them. Because if I did them separately, I don’t think people will come to hear the fourth concerto or the first concerto. But if I group them together with the more popular second and third (Barry Manilow’s ‘All by Myself,’ ‘Full Moon and Empty Arms,’ ‘Three Blind Mice’), then that will be like having a captive audience; since they are there, they might be forced to stay!”
He added, “I find all four of them, even if not all of them are equally popular, rather appealing. Rachmaninoff is one of my favorite composers. I grew up with many of his pieces.” —CONTRIBUTED