Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Hanging out with Christopher Janwong McKiggan

Pianist Christopher Janwong McKiggan

Some time have already passed since pianist Christopher Janwong McKiggan had his concert here in the Philippines but I think that it would be fun to post some crazy and not so crazy stuff that he did here aside from his one night only performance.

Chris at the Steinway Boutique, Manila

Despite having some serious jet lag, Chris conducted a couple of masterclasses at the University of Sto. Tomas very early in the morning after arriving late that night before. It had been a few years since I last set foot at the campus so it took me quite a while to get used to being at the Conservatory of Music once again. It surprised me to see that some of the little piano kids from years ago are now college students already and that made me feel very old. I thought that I would nod off to sleep during the masterclass (since it was very early in morning) but I was kept awake by Chris who kept amazing everyone with his sight reading skills. He told the students that he hasn't played most of the pieces that they've prepared and yet when he took to the keyboard to demonstrate his point, he played them as if they've been part of his repertoire for years.

RAd giving Chris a headache

After the first of two masterclasses at UST, we dropped by the Steinway Boutique, Manila. I was worried that Chris would get his first taste of the horrible Metro Manila traffic getting there, but miraculously, travelling that afternoon was a breeze. Boutique Executive Joyce Tan welcomed us graciously and gave both Chris and I the opportunity to play with the Steinway grand piano that I could only afford in my dreams. Chris played as if he was already having a concert on stage while my playing probably worsened his jet lag. Chris was very amused by the numerous security guards he saw at the malls especially those who were stationed at Landmark wearing Chinese attire.

RAd, Pim and Chris

Thankfully, Thailand is very near to the Philippines so it wasn't difficult at all for Chris' girlfriend Pim to fly here to watch the concert. She was also there to observe the second masterclass at UST that happened the morning after the concert. After the masterclass, Anthony Say, the head of the piano department of the UST Conservatory, Chris, Pim and I had lunch wherein we discussed a variety of topics ranging from the history of UST to Thai actor Mario Maurer. I told Chris and Pim afterwards that the two of them, a very attractive pair, could easily pass of as celebrities in here. I really hope that the two had a grand time during their very brief stay in here.

Chris' concert was also part of his promotional tour for his recently released album Paganimania. He played two tracks from it during the concert and afterwards, he signed CD's for those who bought it. In the album, Niccolò Paganini’s very popular Caprice No. 24 in A minor was given a different spin and take by composers from different nationalities. The tracks include Pag-Rag by Robert Beaser, Scène V by Moon Young Ha, Paganini Reverie by Karim Al-Zand, Pact Ink by Narong Prangcharoen, Jade Clappers by Zhou Jing, Niccolo by S. Peace Nistades, Capricious Invariance by James Mobberley. I asked Chris if it was his deliberate choice not to have any European composers in the album. I thought that by staying away from Europe, the resulting pieces would result in a more varied output. He responded that the composers he commissioned were those he already knew and have worked with before and it just happened that there were no Europeans among them. One of his conditions was not to do variations since it’s been done many times before. Listening to the tracks in the album, there are some tracks wherein the Paganini passages are very obvious while some, I think I had to ask the composers themselves how their works ended that way. And there's also a track (I'm not saying which) wherein Chris can be heard unexpectedly. Hearing Chris in this manner for the first time caught me by surprise and I had to tell him that I was relieved that I didn't spill my coffee.


1. Pag-Rag
2. Scène V
3. Paganini Reverie
4. Pact Ink
5. Jade Clappers
6. Niccolo
7. Capricious Invariance

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...