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US pianist Raffi Kasparian to perform in Laoag

/ 01:56 AM May 21, 2012

PIANIST Raffi Kasparian

When American pianist Raffi Kasparian and his 13-year-old son, Roman, perform at the Northern Christian College Auditorium in Laoag City on July 14, it will bring back memories of a few concerts mounted in Ilocos Norte some years ago.

While the program has interesting pieces by Bach, Ravel and Rachmaninoff, among others, the father and son  will connect with Filipino audiences by opening the concert with a piano arrangement of “Pamulinawen” and two rarely heard pieces by Francisco Buencamino.


To be sure, this is not the first invasion of classical music in the province.

Cecile Licad played an all-Chopin program at the Malacañang ti Amianan in 2001, and another all-Chopin recital in 2006 with tenor Lemuel de la Cruz and flutist Christopher Oracion opening the concert at the historic Paoay Church.


Licad played Mozart in Curimao in the resort of Dr. Joven Cuanang shortly after the Paoay concert. A Steinway grand piano had to travel 18 hours from Manila to Paoay and Currimao and back for the recital.

When Gov. Imee Marcos hosted a press con for Paoay Kumakaway, I thought I’d heed the call of Paoay by encouraging a concert of an American pianist married to a native of Paoay, Joycelyn Vasquez.

Ilocos Norte sites

If you are driving to Laoag for this July 14 piano recital, you might as well get acquainted with  Paoay’s colorful past—its dances, its delicacies (dudol, a native delicacy), its wine (basi), its folk rituals.

Northern Christian College in Laoag City

A day before the concert, you could swim at Pagudpud Beach, enjoy  a breath-taking view of China Sea on top of Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos town, and perhaps find time to visit the Luna House in Badoc town, where the country’s first violinist, Manuel Luna (brother of painter Juan Luna), came from. He was graduated from the Barcelona conservatory of music in the late 1800s.

After the concert, you can  proceed to see the  Bacarra Ruins in Bacarra town, where I saw old discarded violins and a dilapidated piano and harpsichord in the parish museum. Those neglected musical instruments certainly speak of the old musical glory of this town.

Another must is a visit to Sarrat Church, where ancient catacombs exist.


Luz Carpio, former  chair of the Paoay Cultural and Tourism Council and a music teacher, said  Paoay was the cultural center of the Ilocos Region and the center of music-making. Distinguished music teachers, she said, included Amador Galinato, Honorio Baesa and Julio Plan.

Ten years ago, a wisp of a girl named Bianca Montanez from Piddig, Ilocos Norte, traveled seven hours with her father, Esmond, to hear Licad perform in Tuguegarao City. The two met when the girl asked for autograph, and Licad ended up listening to the girl who happened to be a piano student.

In two years, Nita Abrogar Quinto won in the National Music Competition for Young Artists. She is now based in South Carolina, where she was given music scholarship.

The presence of 13-year-old Roman Kasparian in the July 14 concert should give us an idea of the musical genes of the Ilocano.

Just recently admitted into his 9th grade, Roman has been a frequent winner of piano competitions and participant in honors recitals given by the Northern Virginia, Washington and Maryland Music Teachers Associations since 2007. He was a featured soloist in a piano master class given by renowned pianist  Brian Ganz,  who electrified Manila audiences  some years back.

The July 14  concert of pianists Raffi and  Roman Kasparian is presented by  Silaw Philippine Inc. under Joycelyn   Vasquez Kasparian, in association with various NGOs coordinated by Angelita V. Barbers and the Paoay Parish Council represented by Dr. Julito Catubay.

For tickets, call  0917-5688125 or  e-mail

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TAGS: laoag concert, Lifestyle, pianist, raffi kasparian
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