Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The BMW Cultural Concert Series Trio Con Brio

Trio con Brio

Joseph Esmilla, violin
Rudolf Golez, piano
Victor Coo, cello

Paul Schoenfield Café Music
Felix Mendelssohn Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 49 (1st movement)
Astor Piazzolla
     Concierto Para Trio*
     La Muerte del Angel

*arranged by Albert Tiu

I very much regret not seeing Trio Con Brio when they had their critically acclaimed concert last year. This trio, composed of violinist Joseph Esmilla, pianist Rudolf Golez and cellist Victor Coo, is probably the most celebrated trio in the country today. Each member of this trio is a capable soloist and a heavyweight in the classical music scene in here. Although Victor Coo is based abroad, he frequently visits the country and does a number of performances whenever he is here. I still couldn’t find an explanation as to why I still haven’t seen Victor perform yet. No wonder that I scrambled to find where the BMW Prestige Motors Showroom was when I got an invite from Martin Lopez, Executive Director of the FilFest Foundation to see this trio perform there. I didn’t want to repeat the mistake that I did when I missed their concert last year.

I asked Rudolf about their prepared programme a few days before the music soiree and he seemed enthusiastic about the Paul Schoenfield piece entitled Café Music. He told me that it’s a contemporary piece with jazz elements. Knowing how diverse jazz music is, I had no idea what to expect with this one. Imagine my surprise when I heard ragtime, Charleston and early 20th century jazz music in the piece since I’ve been listening to this type of music a lot in recent weeks. This piece was introduced to the trio by Coo and it was indeed a pleasant sounding one compared to the atonal and dissonant works coming from most contemporary composers. The Charleston part in the Allegro first movement almost tempted me to stand up and dance but I had to behave knowing that there were many distinguished guests during this invitation only event. The Andante Moderato second movement on the other hand was so exquisite that it made me wish that cognac was also served during this event. Alas, champagne was the only alcohol served that night.

The next piece that the trio performed was the first movement of Felix Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 49. This was originally the last piece in the programme but I actually preferred it to be the second since it would’ve been quite anticlimactic if they stuck to the original order. It’s a piece from the Romantic era and although I am really drawn to that period, the previous Schoenfield piece made such an impression on me that I wanted to relive that moment again. No offense to Mendelssohn and lovers of his music but that’s how I felt during this time.

The trio ended their programme with three pieces by Astor Piazzolla. The first two pieces, Concierto para Trio and Soledad, arranged for a trio by pianist Albert Tiu sounded like music from Piazzolla’s operetta Maria de Buenos Aires. These two along with the third Piazzolla piece La Muerte del Angel were positively received by the audience during the trio’s previous concert last year and these have since become their signature pieces. For their encore, the trio played Tubig at Langis by George Canseco arranged by National Artist Lucio San Pedro. But the audience wanted more so they performed another Piazzolla piece called Oblivion. I was seated near the back and didn’t have the best view but I didn’t mind at all since just being there was more than enough for me.

I’ve never been to a BMW Cultural Concert Series before since the previous performance venues were inaccessible to me. Finally, the location for this concert wasn’t as far south and I was able to witness this intimate performance. I was also very pleased to see Mr. Yaniv Revach, the Deputy Chief of Mission and he was able to introduce me to the new Israeli Ambassador Menashe Bar-On along and his wife Madame Eti. Also present during the concert was phenomenal violinist Diomedes Saraza Jr. and I told him that I was also eagerly anticipating his upcoming concert.

RAd, Israeli Ambassador Menashe Bar-On with wife Madame Eti,
Rudolf Golez, Joseph Esmilla and Yaniv Revach

Thursday, August 25, 2011

An Evening of Piano Concertos with Rene Dalandan

Rene Dalandan with FILharmoniKA

Rene Dalandan., piano
Gerard Salonga, conductor

Franz Liszt Les Préludes
Johann Sebastian Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050
Franz Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat major, S.124
Aram Khachaturian Piano Concerto No. 1 in D flat major, Op.38

A pianist performing two piano concertos in one concert is already more than enough for me. But Rene Dalandan decided to push things further by performing three piano concertos accompanied by FILharmoniKA conducted by Gerard Salonga during his recent concert with held at the Philam Life Auditorium. A little over a month ago this concert, I was able to talk to Gerard Salonga and he told me about this concert but I had no idea at that time who Rene Dalandan was. But I was able to see him when he watched Reynaldo Reyes’ concert a couple of days before he had his own. There had been times when there’s a drought of piano performances but now, piano concerts are back with a vengeance and I just wish that I’d be able to keep up with all of them.

The main draw of this concert for me was Khachaturian’s piano concerto which is one of the composer’s three concertos that I’ve been waiting to see performed live. But this piece was slated to be performed last which meant that I had to sit through the rest of the prepared programme before getting to this part. The concert started with orchestra playing Les Préludes by Franz Liszt which was quite fitting since the music world is celebrating the 200th birth anniversary of this composer. But while this piece was being played, I was already prepping myself for the piano concertos. And this also made me realize that it had been many months since I last saw a live performance of FILharmoniKA.

Finally the piano concerto portion of the concert started with Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050 by Johann Sebastian Bach. Many know that Baroque music is not really my cup of tea but I still decided to listen closely and I was able to take note of the interesting set up with violinist Rechelle Alcances and flutist Benjamin Velasco Jr. who both had major parts in this piece. It is really odd that despite my previous aversion towards Baroque music, I am starting to appreciate it more and more with every performance of music from that era. Although the major catch is that I prefer to have the keyboard part performed on an actual harpsichord instead. Again, my thought during this performance was that it would’ve been a lot nicer if Dalandan played the piece on a harpsichord instead.

Rene Dalandan

The second piano concerto performed was the Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat major, S.124 by Franz Liszt which is still in line with the celebrations surrounding his birth. I still remember the last time I saw a live performance of this piece which was just a couple of months before this and I wondered how many more times I would hear this again before the year ends. Seriously though, this was the time when I started enjoying the concert. I felt that Dalandan performed this concerto with flair and was in total command which gave the piece the character that I was looking for whenever this is performed.

Finally my most awaited part of the concert came on the second half which was the performance of the Piano Concerto No. 1 in D flat major, Op.38 by Aram Khachaturian. Ever since I first heard a recording of this piece, I’ve always wanted to see it performed live and now the chance finally came. This was truly the highlight of the evening as Dalandan managed to exceed my expectations. All I could say about is that any subsequent performance of this concerto had to measure up to Dalandan's rendition or else I’d be disappointed.

Rene Dalandan with guests

His encore was a heartfelt rendition Franz Liszt’s Consolation No. 3 in D flat major, S. 172 that he played as a tribute to his mentor Aida Sanz Gonzalez who passed away just weeks prior to the concert. I had to note that I saw Rene Dalandan a week later when he watched Noli Me Tangere, the Musical along with Cris Villonco’s family. It is such a small world after all. But I do hope that the audience for classical music concerts and musicals get larger.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tricia Garcia's Kulay Album Launch

Tricia Garcia

During these times when I think that the Philippine music scene has become too homogenized with numerous acts sounding the same thanks to autotune, I very much welcome to the scene, Tricia Garcia, a refreshing, easy listening jazz artist who recently released her debut album called Kulay which translates to color. And true to her album’s name, Tricia’s presence and music provide a much needed splash of other color to the local recording industry.

The album under MCA Music features nine songs (two covers and seven originals) in two versions meaning that there are eighteen tracks in total. The nine songs are first presented in its Vibrant version which features a full band accompaniment while acoustic versions of the songs follow suit in the Pastel section of the album. The carrier single of the album is a cover of Tabing Ilog which was originally done by the band Barbie’s Cradle.

While the album featured two versions of the songs, a third version (which I’d like to call Radiant) was heard during her recent album launch held at Gweilos in Makati. Tricia, accompanied by a three piece band, treated the audience with a more upbeat and electrifying versions of the songs from her album. An example is the song Tubig which had a touch of reggae during the live performance compared to the more relaxed album versions. I think that this is reason enough to check out her live performances as well.

I’m usually averse to cover versions yet I do understand the strategy behind them. I’m more pleased that originals in Filipino (which is a rarity) dominate the tracks in Kulay and I do hope that the listeners would respond positively to them like I did. Tricia Garcia is indeed a promising young artist whose debut album Kulay offers a unique musical palette. This album is a welcome addition in further diversifying the music industry making it more vibrant and exciting.

Catch more of Tricia when she opens for The Wild Swans on October 1, 2011 at One Esplanade and for Lenka on October 9, 2011 at the World Trade Center. Tabing Ilog is also available as a ringback tone by texting ILOG to 2728 for Smart subscribers, KK196 for Globe subscribers and 5492283 for Sun subscribers.


1. Tabing Ilog
2. Ako’y sa Yo. At Ika’y Akin Lamang
3. Tubig
4. Sa Iyo Lang
5. Tara
6. Dito Lang Ako
7. Walang Salita
8. Sana Naman
9. Mamahalin Kita
Pastel (Acoustic Versions)
10. Tabing Ilog
11. Ako’y sa Yo. At Ika’y Akin Lamang
12. Tubig
13. Sa Iyo Lang
14. Tara
15. Dito Lang Ako
16. Walang Salita
17. Sana Naman
18. Mamahalin Kita

Brides of Sulu opens the 5th International Silent Film Festival Manila

August 26, 2011
7:00 PM Brides of Sulu (Philippines)
9:00 PM Nosferatu (Germany)

August 27, 2011
5:00 PM Akeyuku Sora (Japan)
7:00 PM L’inferno (Italy)

August 28, 2011
5:00 PM The Greek Miracle (Greece)
              Pilar Guerra (Spain)

Shang Cineplex (Cinema 2), Shangri-La Plaza

For some people, silent films are old movies that are not as interesting compared to the latest special effects laden films that dominate the cinemas in here. But the films to be screened at the 5th International Silent Film Festival Manila running this August 26-28, 2011 at the Shang Cineplex (Cinema 2) at the Shangri-La Plaza provide something else that the latest films can’t offer: live music performance by various music acts during the actual screening.

I’ve never been into any previous editions of this festival so I am eagerly anticipating experiencing this unique setup. My interested in old films was just recently roused when I was able to watch a tribute to Philippine cinema some time ago. And then I found out some time after that that the Philippines will be having an entry for the first time in this festival with the film Brides of Sulu which will actually open the festival this August 26, 2011 at 7:00 PM.

The screening of the Brides of Sulu will be accompanied by Armor Rapista and the Panday Pandikal Cultural Troupe. During the recent press conference held at the Shangri-La Plaza  Premiere Theatre, Teddy Co of SOFIA provided a bit of historical information regarding the origin of the film. And this origin may prove to be as interesting as the actual film itself. Screening next on the same night at 9:00 PM is Nosferatu - A Symphony of Horror from Germany. The Far Eastern University, performing the music of Stephan von Bothmer will be accompanying this film, released in which is said to be the precursor for vampire films.

On the following day, August 27, 2011 at 5:00 PM, Japan’s Akeyuku Sora (The Dawning Sky) will be screened to be accompanied by contemporary group Bandang Malaya. The film, a melodrama is a change of pace from Torajiro Saito whose slapstick comedy film was shown in last year’s edition. Then, Italy’s L’Inferno accompanied by legendary rock band Razorback will be shown at 7:00 PM. This film is Italy’s first ever full-length feature film and is loosely based on Dante Alighieri’s literary masterpiece.

On the last day August 28, 2011 at 5:00 PM, Greece, a first time participant in the festival as well, will present its only silent film, The Greek Miracle. Providing the music for this short film is pianist Heliodoro “Dingdong” Fiel who also happens to be a friend of mine. This film about an Athenian family who wants to participate in the war is a combination of acted parts and documentary footage featuring real locations and actual soldiers. Dingdong will immediately join his fellow musicians from the HDC Trio as they will accompany the screening of Spain’s entry, Pilar Guerra which is a love story.

As I’ve said, I haven’t been into any previous editions of this festival and I’m really looking forward to this unique viewing experience. I’ve been to quite a number of film festivals for the past few months and I always welcome the opportunity for me to see more films that offer something different from the usual mainstream fare.

For tickets:
Tickets for the screenings will be distributed by the respective embassies and cultural agencies

Brides of Sulu
NCCA 527-2209

Goethe Institut 811-0978 

Akeyuku Sora
The Japan Foundation, Manila 811-6155 to 58

Embassy of Italy 892-4531 loc 143

The Greek Miracle

Pilar Guerra
Instituto Cervantes, Manila 526-1482

For other inquiries:
633-7851 loc.113

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Diomedes Saraza Jr. to headline Re-formation with the Manila Symphony Orchestra

August 27, 2011, 8:00 PM
Philam Life Auditorium
UN Avenue, Manila

Diomedes Saraza Jr., violin
Manila Symphony Orchestra
Arturo Molina, conductor

Felix Mendelssohn Symphony No. 5 in D major, Op. 107 Reformation
Antonino Buenaventura By the Hillside
Aram Khachaturian Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 46

Diomedes Saraza Jr. is no stranger to me and the rest of the Pinoy Violinist group. I, along with many members of the group remember fondly his memorable performance of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra earlier this year and since then, we couldn’t wait to see one of the most promising young violinists in the country perform once again. And now, the time has almost arrived as Saraza Jr. performs with the Manila Symphony Orchestra in its 3rd concert of its season entitled Re-formation to be held at the Philam Life Auditorium this August 27, 2011 at 8:00 PM. What makes me really interested in this concert is Aram Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 46 which remains to be the only violin concerto in my playlist that I have yet to see performed live.

Diomedes Saraza Jr.

The other pieces that the MSO under the baton of Arturo Molina has prepared for this evening are Antonino Buenaventura’s By the Hillside and Felix Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5 which is also known as Reformation. This symphony is in keeping with the theme of the concert celebrating the 10th year anniversary of the rebirth of the MSO after it disbanded for some years due to lack of support. So not only does the MSO continue the celebration of its 85th year, but is also commemorates another milestone in its rich history. The previous concerts for this 2011 season had been very successful and I do believe that this upcoming concert continues the MSO’s streak.

The Manila Symphony Orchestra

Ticket prices:
P1000 Orchestra Center
P800 Orchestra Side
P500 Loge 
50% student discount
20% senior citizen discount

For inquiries:
MSO Secretariat 523-5712, (0917) 366-2651

PowER IKons

Erik Santos

Erik Santos, dubbed as the Philippines’ Prince of Pop, was the first winner of the televised talent search Star in a Million some years ago and he is also by far the most successful alumni from the said show. Equally successful was his recent sold out two night concert at the Music Museum entitled PowER Ikons in which I was on hand to see on its second night. This concert with stage direction by GB Sampedro and music direction by Homer Flores featured songs from local and foreign music icons, both male and female which showcased Erik Santos’ powerhouse vocals.

I was able to watch the second night of this concert directed by GB Sampedro with music direction by Homer Flores. The concert started with a medley of songs by contemporary recording artists like The Climb by Miley Cyrus, Halo by Beyonce, Larger than Life by the Backstreet Boys whom he believes could be destined to be music icons one day. Erik also performed signature songs from undisputed icon Michael Jackson in which he was joined by members of the dance group G-Force.

Gary Valenciano and Erik Santos

Some highlights of the concert for me was when he sang songs from OPM artists. He did a medley of songs from local female music icons like Kuh Ledesma, Regine Velasquez, Zsa Zsa Padilla and Pops Fernandez. And the main highlight of the evening not just for me, but for everybody present that night was the impromptu duet that Erik had with Mr. Pure Energy, Gary Valenciano. Erik was supposed to sing a medley of songs from male music icons Martin Nievera and Gary V just by himself but he asked Gary V who was watching among the audience to join him on stage and turn that number into an unrehearsed duet. The kindness of Gary V made this evening such a memorable one not just for Erik but for the rest of the audience that night as well.

Stephanie Reese

While Gary V’s duet with Erik was not planned, Stephanie Reese’s guesting was definitely part of the programme. Stephanie had played the role of Kim in the German production of Miss Saigon and she belted out a Barbra Streisand Song as it mashed with a Josh Groban song belted out by Erik Santos. Her theater background clearly manifested itself in the clarity of her diction and the crispness of her tone and voice.

Angeline Quinto

Another guest performer was Angeline Quinto, the winner of the recently concluded Star Power talent search. Her ear splitting vocals with notes reaching the stratosphere showed why she won the competition and is now one of the promising female vocalists in the industry. She and Erik sang songs that were heavily associated with the Superstar Nora Aunor.

Pops Fernandez

The third and last guest but definitely not the least was Pops Fernandez, known locally as the Concert Queen and a also a music icon in her own right. After singing a mishmash of Born This Way/Express Yourself, she then had her duet with Erik with the Luther Vandross/Janet Jackson song The Best Things in Life are Free.

A very grateful Erik at the end of his concert

As I’ve said earlier, Erik did shine when he sang OPM songs and he definitely nailed the Basil Valdes medley during the latter part of the concert. He truly belongs to the country’s long line of premier balladeers and with this number, he was not just able to meet the technical demands of the songs, but was also able to connect with it emotionally. When the concert was almost at an end, Erik thanked the audience for supporting him throughout the years and hoped that with their continued support, the possibility of being an icon in the Philippine music industry would not seem so farfetched.

Erik Santos and RAd

Erik Santos is still young and he still has a long career ahead of him. His project after this concert will be his musical theater debut in Atlantis Production’s staging of Disney’s The Little Mermaid wherein he will play the role of Prince Eric. I last saw him perform live performing an excerpt from Noli Me Tangere, the Musical and I think that he is capable of doing musical theater. Erik also has a new album entitled Awit Para Sa’yo which is now available in the market. Special thanks to Erik's management and Orange Magazine TV for this opportunity.

The Noli Me Tangere, the Musical Experience Part 3

The Other Ibarra and Other Scenes

The cast of Noli Me Tangere

A week after the opening night of Noli Me Tangere, the Musical, I returned to the Cultural Center of the Philippines once again to see Mark Bautista, the other Crisostomo Ibarra, make his musical theater debut. I was very interested to see how he would fare as Crisostomo Ibarra and how he would tackle the role. I had to remind myself not to think of the other Ibarra, Gian Magdangal since it would not be fair to compare the two of them. I just had to think that seeing both Ibarras perform could only enrich my Noli experience which has been a blast so far.

I got to see Mark Bautista perform during the performance that was sponsored by the Department of Foreign Affairs. It was a bit strange to be among the few people in the audience inside the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater) who weren’t part of the DFA event and reception but was able to watch the performance through Tanghalang Pilipino.

RAd and Mark Bautista

Now on to Mark’s performance. Mark is a baritone with a deeper and darker timbre while Gian is a tenor with a brighter tone. I said that I wasn't going to compare the two Ibarras but I just stated the range and quality of their voices. I got a bit worried if Mark would be able to hit the high notes that his character is required to sing but he was up to the challenge and he did quite well vocally. And Mark also brought forth a brooding Ibarra to the production. What really surprised me the most about his performance was his vulnerability when it came to the scene when he had to say goodbye to Maria Clara (Cris Villonco). He entered the scene almost on the verge of breaking down emotionally and I almost broke down as well. I admit that I had to fight back tears throughout the Paalam na Pag-Ibig (Farewell My Love) number. I thought that since I was able to watch the musical before, I would no longer be moved but I clearly failed in that aspect.

Throughout the performance, I got a bit worried regarding the audience since they were very reserved. Only a few numbers received an applause and I felt a bit bad for the cast because of that. I wished that they wouldn't get affected by the tepid response and hoped that they would continue on doing their best. But my fear was unfounded when this audience at the very end gave a very generous standing ovation to the cast during the curtain call. The production hopes to go on a world tour after their run and I guess that the standing ovation from the DFA people and their guests just sealed the deal.

Birthday celebrant Audie Gemora

But not everything has been pleasant for the musical though. After the opening night, the following evening performance was also a special one since it served as a reunion/fund raiser for Tanghalang Pilipino by its alumni. But the celebration didn’t stop there since also on that day, the director Audie Gemora celebrated his birthday as well. I wanted to stay longer and join in the fun during the pre-show activities but I had to watch something else at a different but nearby CCP venue. After I was done with my show, I returned to where Noli was and saw a number of people hanging around at the lobby. I initially thought that I caught the intermission but that wasn’t the case at all. And it had to be Ryan Cayabyab who had to explain everything to me that 35 minutes into the show, the light board broke down. They weren’t able to fix it and they ended up not continuing the rest of the show for that night. I was stunned to hear that and I felt sorry not just for the cast and crew, but also for the TP alumni and the rest of the audience who were there. The TP alumni did everything that they can in order to salvage what was supposed to be their night. I was told that they took group photos, raffled off prizes and used that moment to get updated with each other. Tickets for that performance would be honored on other dates and since then, the performances have been going on without any major hitch.

RAd and Cris Villonco

Noli Me Tangere, the Musical continues its run until the end of August and here are the rest of the performance dates with the actor playing Crisostomo Ibarra in each performance.

August 19, 2011 10:00 AM (special performance) Gian Magdangal
August 19, 2011 3:00 & 8:00 PM Mark Bautista
August 20-21, 2011 Gian Magdangal
August 26, 2011 1:30 & 8:00 PM (special performance) Mark Bautista
August 27, 2011 3:00 PM Mark Bautista
August 27, 2011 8:00 PM Gian Magdangal
August 28. 2011 3:00 PM Mark Bautista

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Over 150 musicians to jam at The Story of Jazz: The 1st CCP International Jazz Festival

I’ve been to a handful of jazz performances held at the lobby of a museum and saw first hand there that there is indeed a following for jazz music here. And jazz music will be on the spotlight once again at the upcoming The Story of Jazz: The 1st CCP International Jazz Festival happening on August 23-28, 2011 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

The festival showcases performances by over 150 jazz musicians from various groups and jazz styles like bebop, blues, ragtime, modal, experimental, big band and fusion. Lectures and workshops facilitated by some of the performing artists are also scheduled and The Story of Jazz in the Philippines produced by Richie Quirino and Collis Davis Jr. will also be screened during the festival.

Slated to perform during this six day festival are the royal hartigan and blood drum spirit (USA), Korean Soul and Beat Project (Korea), Stelzhamma (Austria), Shun Kikuta (Japan), Neris Gonzalez (Spain), jazz vocalist Charito, guitarist Joric Maglanque, Michael Bourne, Bleu Rascals, Lowcal, Blue Rats, Faith Gospel Singers, the UP Jazz Ensemble, UST Jazz Ensemble, Cooky Chua and Bluesviminda, Majam, Emy Munji, and the AMP Band. Collaborations and jamming sessions between the local and foreign artists are among the highlights during the performances in the festival.

The concert performances will be held at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater), Tanghalang Huseng Batute (CCP Studio Theater) and the Silangan Hall. Some of these venues will be transformed into jazz clubs and lounges and will also serve drinks to complete the jazz experience. The lectures and workshops will be held at the MKP Multi-Purpose Hall while the documentary will be screened at the Tanghalang Manuel Conde (CCP Dream Theater).

Keyboardist Emy Munji

During the event’s recent press conference, members of the press and media were treated to a sample of the upcoming jazz festival through a performance by Emy Munji who played on both electronic keyboards and on an upright piano, Ruben Reyes on the bass guitar and Joey Valenciano on percussion. These three are respected veterans in the jazz scene here but that doesn’t mean that jazz music can only be appreciated by old people. Thomas “Tomcat” Colvin of the Blues Asia Network was extremely proud to tell everyone that the busiest blues band in the country today has members who are still in their teens which only proves that jazz music can also be appreciated by the youth.

Guitarist Ruben Reyes and percussionist Joey Valenciano

Ticket prices:
Tanghalang Nicanor (CCP Main Theater) performances

Tanghalang Huseng Batute (CCP Studio Theater) and Silangan Hall performances

MKP Multi-Purpose Hall lectures

50% student discount
20% senior citizen discount

For inquiries:
CCP Box Office 832-3704
CCP Music Division 832-1125 loc. 1604-1605
TicketWorld 891-9999

Reynaldo Reyes, Beethoven Piano Sonatas Concert II

Pianist Reynaldo Reyes

Reynaldo Reyes, piano

Ludwig van Beethoven
     Piano Sonata No. 9 in E major, Op. 14 No. 1
     Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 2 Moonlight
     Piano Sonata No. 10 in G major, Op. 14 No. 2
     Piano Sonata No. 2 in A major, Op. 2 No. 2

I remember scratching my head when I failed to catch the first concert of this series of three concerts featuring the piano sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven. One of my friends who was able to watch the said concert found it very odd that he wasn’t able to see me watching this and a piano performance at that. I told myself that I’d make sure to catch the rest of the concert series held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. But catching this second concert proved to be tricky since it had to be postponed to a later date due to bad weather. Eventually, the weather cleared, the rescheduled concert pushed through at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater) and most importantly, I was there to watch it.

The programme consisted of four Beethoven piano sonatas: one that I’ve learned to play, two that I’ve listened to before, and one that I wasn’t really familiar with at all. It was a very interesting choice of early Beethoven works but the highlight of the concert was definitely the extremely popular Moonlight Sonata. Reyes chose to play the first movement not as slow as in most recordings/performances but rather as a funeral march which is a bit faster. He said beforehand that this section was originally intended to be played as such so that’s what he did.

The rest of the sonatas played were not as popular but Reyes’ performance got me thinking if it was possible for me to play these sonatas. I think that the ones in E major and G major are playable but I fear that I am not yet ready to play the one in A major. It seemed very technically difficult which is rather surprising since it is a very early Beethoven composition. Not only that, his performance made me want to practice playing the Moonlight Sonata again since I think that I’ve gotten very rusty playing that piece. For an encore, Reyes played Bagatelle No. 4 in B minor, Op. 126 by Beethoven, obviously. The opus number indicates that it is a much later Beethoven work compared to the sonatas so it sounded very different and rather very modern.

I think that the years already took its toll in his accuracy and precision but seemed that his stamina hasn’t yet been affected. For him to play four Beethoven sonatas in one concert is something that is truly amazing and I do hope that I’d be able to find the stamina and endurance to achieve that feat. For me, watching him was like having a lesson in artistry since there were many instances in which he played the pieces very differently from what I would normally do like the funeral march of the Moonlight Sonata.

Pianists Rudolf Golez, Reynaldo Reyes, Nena del Rosario-Villanueva
and Rene Dalandan

Reynaldo Reyes will perform the third and last of his Beethoven Pianos Concert series on August 17, 2011, 7:30 PM at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater).

The Return of the Comeback of the New and Improved Haring + Ubu-L XXX

I first encountered the Sipat Lawin Ensemble during their Fragments section at the Virgin Labfest last year. And during that time, they honestly freaked me out. But that changed this year when I was really amused by their on site performances of Kontrabida, Inc. And I’ve also gotten to know some of the actors from the ensemble. So it’s no wonder that while I was just hanging out at the Cultural Center of the Philippines waiting for the Noli Me Tangere opening night to start, I was somewhat forced by them to come back the next evening to see their play.

I’d like to believe that I am an open minded person who doesn’t flinch at the unconventional so I convinced myself to experience The Return of the Comeback of the New and Improved Haring + Ubu-L XXX, Sipat Lawin’s own take of Alfred Jerry’s Ubu Roi over at the Tanghalang Huseng Batute (CCP Studio Theater). But I got very apprehensive when I read their announcement advising the audience to bring extra shirts, wear raincoats and even prepare umbrellas. I wasn’t reassured at all when I saw a photo of a scene from the play depicting the death of a character by stoning with shit. And then there’s the slogan of Bawal Sumuko, Puwedeng Sumuka which translates to surrendering is forbidden, puking is allowed. Thoughts of whether watching this was  a wise decision or not started creeping in my mind. But then I’d really like to convince myself that I am truly open minded person who is open to new ideas no matter how unconventional and that I am very much willing to expand my horizons no matter how terrifying.

The story set inside a toilet bowl was simple enough; Papa Ubu (Nar Cabico) and Mama Ubu (JK Anicoche who is also the director) along with Kapitan Tutan (Acey Aguilar) plot to kill Haring Bulbo (an unfortunate audience member) and they succeed. Prinsipesa Bukkake (Dorothea Marabut-Yrastorza), the king’s daughter escapes and vows to avenge the death of her father. The Ubus rule the land but things don’t end up well when Kapitan Tutan protests, Prinsipesa Bukkake returns and the Ubus relationship becomes strained. And with ill intentions from all of the characters, they were doomed to fail right from the start and they became meat for the sharks in the end.

Throughout the play, there were heavy doses of stylized sex, offensive dialogue, and toilet humor. Several audience members were dragged into playing some bit parts as well. Probably the main highlights of the production were the eating of shit (or whatever that was) by some of the audience members and the spewing, spilling and dripping of whatever liquid substance those were into the audience. I was extremely glad that I wasn’t dragged into playing a part and none of the liquid projectiles hit me. No wonder that some from the ensemble wanted me to watch the night before while I was wearing a Barong Tagalog. I would’ve been easily spotted among the audience and very likely dragged into having a part. And worse, I would’ve had some expensive dry cleaning bills if my ever my outfit got stained by whatever those liquids were.

I know that I’m not really the intended audience for this play but I do see the fun aspect of this production. And I was extremely thrilled since I felt that I was able to escape madness and was able to come out of the theater unstained and unscathed. And since I’ve already experienced an unconventional play by the Sipat Lawin Ensemble, I think that I’d be more willing to participate and subject myself to embarrassment when I find myself watching one of their future productions.
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