You can have another look at violinist Gina Medina when she teams up with cellist Wilfredo Pasamba and pianist Mary Anne Espina in an evening of chamber music on July 20 at Filipinas Heritage Library.
A two-time first-prize winner of the National Music Competition for Young Artists and a holder of master’s degree in Chamber Music from the University of San Francisco, US, Medina has explored the many facets of classical music as soloist, concertmaster (with the Manila Symphony Orchestra, and previously with the Asian Youth Orchestra founded by Yehudi Menuhin) and chamber musician.
“I regard myself as a team player,” she said. “I am at my best when I am with a team.”
Her musical life, in fact, she considers a reflection of a Brahms sonata, another chamber music piece.
“The Brahms sonata starts with two G Major chords played on the piano, and then the violin continues with its wonderful melody,” she says. The chords are pillars of life. They could be persons or events. As the melody starts, so is my voice. It is a mere continuation of what those pillars have begun. I know that I am a fruit of those before me. My life is intertwined with people around me.
“The music, though it sounds simple in the beginning, becomes complicated because of the weaving of the sound of the piano and the violin. Such is a typical musician’s life—full of emotions, lots of wonderful events, conflicts, excitement. It is my hope that when I reach the final chord of my life, I would have shared enough so that my life will continue, through the people I have loved.”
Surrounded by music
A native of Taal, Batangas, Gina comes from a family who are naturally into music.
“It was my father who introduced my sister and me to music. I started playing the piano at the age of four and the violin at the age of seven. We would travel from Taal, Batangas, to Manila by bus every Saturday to have lessons. I remember my lessons in Philippine Women’s University under professor Luis Valencia was at 7 a.m.
“After the death of professor Valencia, my father went to seek advice from Sr. Mary Placid, dean of Music at St. Scholastica’s College. She recommended Maestro Basilio Manalo, who at that time just came back from Hong Kong, after having served as concertmaster of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.
“I have a sister who is a musician as well. She plays the piano, violin and viola. She is a wonderful teacher. She took her master’s degree in Japan. That is where she met her husband. She is based in Hiroshima, Japan, with her husband and two kids. My niece is a gifted pianist. At age 10, she studied and memorized the Mozart Sonata in C Major, K.545, First Movement, in one week. She plans to pursue music as her course.”
For now, a day in the life of violinist Gina Medina looks like scenes from the Meryl Streep-starrer “Music from the Heart.”
She teaches almost daily, inserts a chamber music rehearsal in between. In the evening, she rehearses with the MSO.
Students pursuing music go through emotional turmoil, and when this happens, Gina does some counseling and consultations.
“I am always with people—mostly musicians. Actually my life is surrounded by music,” she says.
“Whether as soloist or concertmaster, one needs to get along with the orchestra members and the conductor. Relationships are very important in music-making. There is harmony in music, when people making it get along.”
Her advice to upcoming musicians, coming from her heart: “You have to surround yourself with good musicians, whether young or old. Performing with musicians with a higher level of standard will improve your ability.
“Another way to be in constant company of musicians is by teaching, so you are in touch with the younger generation of musicians. That way you are aware of the current level of playing. It should inspire you to work harder. A low level of playing should inspire you to find ways to look for talented musicians or to develop a teaching method that will improve their level of performance.”
Medina also urges humility. “It is always good to be humble but confident. It starts by knowing and accepting your strengths and weaknesses. It is not healthy to envy. One needs to realize that there is a big world and each has a place for everyone.”
The July 20 chamber music concert is one of the concerts lined up by the MCO Foundation, which just launched its Young Artists Development Program. It includes: Handel-Harvolsen’s Passacaglia for Violin and Cello; Beethoven’s Sonata for Piano and Violin in E Flat Major Op. 12, No. 3; and Arbos’ Three Pieces for Piano Trio.