Ingrid Sala Santamaria closes concert series marking her 50th year as pianist | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Ingrid Sala Santamaria concluded the celebration of her 50th year as concert pianist in Cebu where she was born. Her parents, Salvador and Pilar Sala, were most supportive when she chose a career in music. So were her husband José Santamaria and their four children—Crispy, Joey, Cecile and Cathy.


One Sunday afternoon, at the height of the Christmas season, Ingrid opened the traveling exhibit of her Golden Jubilee memorabilia at the Northwing of SM City Cebu. SM Cebu’s prime mover, Marissa Fernan, cut the ceremonial ribbon.


Also involved in the ritual were Ingrid’s aunt Rosebud Sala, daughter Crispy and Arsenic Laurel, brother José and Susan Sala, and the two stalwarts from the newly formed Cebu Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO): conductor Rey Abellana and concert master Marc Hamlet Mercado.


As guests viewed the exhibit, crowds directed their steps to the Northwing Atrium for a Christmas concert featuring the CPO with Ingrid as soloist. News had spread about the well-applauded dress rehearsal that morning, with people singing along, even dancing.


All seats were taken an hour before the appointed time. The overlooking galleries plus the stairways were thronged with an appreciative audience. They cheered with enthusiasm when the CPO rehearsed “Jingle Bells.”


The whole event was a Christmas offering of SM City Cebu, with, among others, the nearby Radisson Blu Hotel, Cebu Music Learning Center, Salvador and Pilar Sala Foundation, and the Philippine Air Force, with some of its band members joining the CPO on this occasion.


A cue from Naila Beltran backstage and the spotlight on Mary Rose Villacastin Manghuyop, mic on hand, indicated the concert was about to start. She shared that the occasion was a tribute to Ingrid. Among the CPO are members of Sala Foundation’s music development program over 20 years ago, and their current young students.


Some had expressly come from Singapore, Jakarta, Manila and other points around the country to participate in the concert. Australian, Japanese and Korean musicians also joined to beef up the orchestra.


First number had Ingrid as soloist in Piano Concerto No. 2 by Sergei Rachmaninoff. The audience swooned to the familiar music and, at the end, gave Ingrid a standing ovation amid shouts of “Bravo, Bravo.”


Marissa Fernan came forth with a splendid bouquet of flowers. Ingrid took a rose and presented it to Rey Abellana. Another went to Marc Hamlet Mercado.


The concert progressed with Reydon Encinares conducting the CPO in Christmas Festival of Songs. Then it was Rey once more with a medley that started with Mozart’s “A Little Night Music,” and included classics from Tchaikovsky (“The Nutcracker”), Beethoven, and even Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas.”


Sheena Ybañez Jackson sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” from the 1942 Judy Garland film “Meet Me in St. Louis.” The lyrics, written during a dire period, apply in our times.


The CPO further delighted the audience with some pop music of today before embarking on another medley that had some humming or singing along to “Joy to the World,” “Deck the Halls,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “Silent Night,” “Jingle Bells” and “Adeste Fidelis.” O come all ye faithful, indeed.


The grand finale was the Cebuano carol “Kasadya,” and that was quite a loud roar when it came to the lines “Bag’ong tu-ig, Bag’ong kinabuhi,,” for that’s what we need, a new life in the new year.




At the end of the performance, Ingrid and the CPO were overwhelmed with congratulations. Many lingered on to wish each other the best of the season and the coming years. It was all, as the Cebuanos say, “Alegre gyud kaayo.”


Among the audience was Cristina Ebrada with daughters Sandy and Benjie Girl. In previous weeks, they had hosted Ingrid at their home, equipped as it is with a grand piano where she could rehearse to her heart’s content.


Present was Rafaelita Pelaez with her son Rudolf Golez, who has won awards in various international piano competitions. He recently played in Moscow and St. Petersburg.


Rudolf’s next performance will be with the CPO as soloist in the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 on Feb. 16, in Cagayan de Oro City, at the Rodelsa Hall of the family-owned Liceo de Cagayan University.


The auditorium is dedicated to the memory of Rafaelita’s parents, Rodolfo and Elsa Pelaez, who founded the Liceo. It is the only center for the performing arts in Mindanao, we learned from Rafaelita.


Ingrid returned to Manila the day after her concert, to spend Christmas and prepare for the 22nd Romantic Piano Concert Tour with her erstwhile mentor, pianist Reynaldo Reyes.


They will play any two of the following: Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto in B-Flat Minor, Chopin’s Concerto for Piano No. 1, or the Rachmaninoff Concerto for Piano No. 2. The one with “Full Moon and Empty Arms,” to put it the pop way.


Catch them at Sonia’s Garden in Tagaytay on Jan. 12. The next five will be in Manila: Jan. 13, Concerto at the Park in Luneta; Jan. 16, Ponce Art Gallery in Makati City; Jan. 18, GSIS Museum; Jan. 20, Lyric Piano Gallery in Quezon City; and Jan. 23, Don Bosco in San Lorenzo Village, Makati City.



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