Saturday, April 16, 2011

My Favorite Cebuano Classical Pianists

3. Aima Maria Labra-Makk. I first met this world renowned Austria-based Cebuana pianist and educator four years ago when she had a solo concert presented by the Arts Council of Cebu and St. Theresas' College, where she is an alumni. A few days before I attended the concert, I had a chance encounter with her in an elevator at Club Ultima. I ask her a question in English, but she answered fluently in Cebuano that she was here for the STC reunion and for the concert. I told her that my wife was also an STC alumni and will be joining in some of this events. The CD collector in me urged to inquire if she had some with her, and if they were selling discs at her concert. "No. I didn't bring any", she answered smiling. My regret is that I did not ask any autograph or had myself pictured with her. She has the most impeccable rendition of Jeno Takacs' works especially the Toccata, in fact, she is the only artist to record the complete discography of the Austrian composer in CD.

2. Rudolf Golez- I first met this Cebuano pianist (although I already heard of him before) at the 80th birthday party of Cardinal Vidal hosted by the Leo and Norma Limliu at the Casino Espanol. During this event, Golez offered the good cardinal a mini solo concert featuring the works of composers in their celebratory moments. These composers include Dohnanyi, Strauss, Schubert, Liszt and Chopin. He played Chopin's Etudes nos. 3 (my personal favorite) and 12 and Etude no. 4 (Golez' personal favorite). His rendition of Liszt Sonnet of Petrarch #204 was impeccable and uplifting. The poetry reading prior to the performance further intensified our appreciation for this difficult rendition. My favorite piece was his interpretation of "Franz Liszt Legend of St. Francis Walking on the Waters". I have the complete works of Liszt on my iPod by world renowned Liszt impresario- and performer Stephen Hough, and I swear Golez' rendition was much better. The crescendo-decrescendo octaves by the alternating left and right hand simulating the waves was spine tingling. The rendition surely touched everyone's innermost being. I had the opportunity to exchange pleasantries with him during this event. I told him I was also a pianist. Classical? he asked.. I said yes...Classical music was my first love and I'll continue to play it as long as I live. He also was kind enough to sign a CD which was sold at the concert. "Happy Listening....", it said..

1. Ingrid Sala Santa Maria- I first met this beautiful lady pianist when I was a teenager studying piano at their Battig Piano School in Lahug, Cebu which was adjacent to my my school, UP high. During this time, I must admit I had a crush on her. Her skin was flawless and so was her playing; she inspired me to improve on my piano playing. My piano teacher at Battig was Mrs. Pala. I can't remember now if I was under Mrs. Montenegro, but I always seem to remember her. In one of my piano recitals in the 1980's, I played Dmitri Shostakovich's Golden Age Ballet polka which was a highly harmonically dissonant piece. I was very nervous because Ms. Ingrid Sala was in the audience. I thought I made several mistakes but no one seemed to notice. My dissatisfaction evaporated when I saw her smiling and clapping.

I've seen her several times perform in Cebu. It is her advocacy to instill within the youth the love for classical music. Performing all over the country without compensation and traveling with pedagogue and educator, Maestro Reynaldo Reyes in their "Romantic Concerto Piano Journey" series. Together, with their music, they made our country a better place, culturally.