The Salvador and Pilar Sala Foundation held an afternoon musicale at the stately ancestral home of the Sala Family in Gorordo Avenue. It was dubbed “A Homecoming Concert,” with international pianist Izumi Tateno.
Tateno is Japanese-born, and based himself for many years since his youth in Finland. He has visited Cebu frequently to teach and to perform. That was during the halcyon days when the Sala Foundation had its music development program.
Those efforts resulted in the Cebu Youth Symphony Orchestra which consequently became the Peace Philharmonic of the Philippines (PPP). This delightful concert evoked many memories of past concerts and recitals.
The setting, the Pilar B. Sala Concert Hall, looked pretty much the same. The polished wooden floors shone and so did the crystal chandeliers, casting glow on the wall tapestries, gilt framed mirrors, colorful flowers, and the lush greenery beyond the terrace.
Most of all it would be the music which filled the place for the next two hours or so. Ingrid Sala Santamaria, in lime green and silvery glitter, gave the rationale of the event, presented Tateno to the mostly young audience, and proceeded to explain the program.
First number was by the PPP Junior String Ensemble conducted by Rodelio Glodove. They played Ernani Cuenco’s “Kalesa,” and “Dugtong-Dugtong,” an arrangement by professor Jeffrey Solares, incorporating Philippine folk airs.
Kudos to the ensemble. Violin I—Leigh Cellano, Amira Axelle Miel, Lennart Cabahug, Jaeya Algarme, Beatriz Jabagat, Franco Cabahug, Jerremy Lim, Ema Loi Japana and Venice Diane Lafradez.
Violin II—Monica Bacus, Jade Ty, Kenny Kaw, Christine Chua, Erika Gutib, Alce Briones and Kathleen Colina; Cello-Sophia Geroy and Isaiah Lim; Viola-Ryan Kaw, Sarah Ann Valiente and Krizmagnum Ibaos.
It was time for Izumi Tateno to take the spotlight. He played solo the Bach-Brahms “Chaco me” in D minor, for left hand alone. Some time ago, Tateno suffered a stroke and when he recovered he could only use his left hand to play.
For the next number in the program he was joined at the piano by his student, scholar and now a brilliant teacher—Ayumi Hirahara. They did a three-hand piano duet of Schubert’s “Lullaby.” Then they did another “Lullaby,” this time by Mozart.
Ingrid Santamaria had her turn with a piano solo. She chose Chopin’s “Ballade No. 3 in A flat major,” which was much applauded. She obliged with another piece, “Dedication” by Schumann-Liszt.
Izumi Tateno was back to to a solo piano rendition for the finale, accompanied by the members of the PPP and erstwhile Cebu Youth Symphony Orchestra. This was the forceful “Left Hand Piano Concerto” specially dedicated to Mr. Tateno by the eminent Japanese composer Takashi Yoshimatsu.
This awe-inspiring opus was played by Tateno with unbridled brilliance, forceful dexterity, and when so required, an almost tender delicacy. The audience sat rapt, observing how his left hand fingers flew over, struck or caressed the ivories. There was great applause at the end, meriting an encore—the Caccini “Ave Maria” as arranged by Yoshimatsu.
There were flowers and congratulations from Ingrid and Susan Montenegro Sala, president of the Sala Foundation, for Tateno and conductor Ariel Peprez who waved in the general direction of the orchestra members. Kudos to them, too:
Violin I—Mark Hamlet Mercado, Reynaldo Abellana, Rodelio Glodove and Hannah Louella Magdadaro Go; Violin II—Francis Roleth Belo, Wayneth Ibales-Abaiz, Morwena Belocura and Lianne Sala, Ingrid and Susan’s gifted niece.
Viola—Junrey Parajes and Clive Cane; cello—Warner Ylaya and Sophia Geroy; doubles bass—Virgilio Ylaya; oboe—Leosa Laramie Mercado-Signe and Nino James Banares; French horn—Mark Axel Melecio and Reydon Encinares; and bassoon—Magno Aquino Jr.
Ingrid and Susan then presented Izumi Tateno with a thick album of clippings and souvenirs from the past performances he gave in Cebu. One of those visits was with his son, an accomplished violinist.
Among the notables present were Aiji Tateno, the pianist’s brother; music lovers Rene and Joy Kintanar who said they drooled over the “Ave Maria;” Rev. Fr. Ernesto Javier SJ from the Sacred Heart School which offers its students a music program; news gals Mayen Tan and Honey Loop; and the fashionable Rosebud Sala who begged off from the merienda that followed.
The agape was an occasion for many of the young people present to meet and congratulate Mister Tateno as well as pose for souvenir photos with him. Everyone asked when he will return to Cebu to which he nodded, “Yes, yes.”
The next musical event in Cebu is scheduled for July 15 at 8 p.m., at the auditorium of the Marcelo B. Fernan Cebu Press Center. It is a duo concerto featuring violinist Joseph Esmilla and award-winning Cebuano pianist Rudolf Golez. It is an Arts Council event. Call 2330452.